Mental Health Patients Need Empathy, Support, Says Psychiatric Expert, Expresses Need to Break Stigma

A professor of Psychiatry, at the University of Benin, (UNIBEN) Kingsley Akhigbe, has advocated empathy and understanding for patients suffering from mental disorders. He also underscored the need to break the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Professor Akhigbe, mental health practitioner at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, (UBTH) Benin City, Edo State, made the call on Thursday while delivering UNIBEN’s 293rd inaugural lecture series titled: “Kolomental and the Elephant in the Room – Our Mental Health.”

The erudite mental health specialist, tasked government and other healthcare stakeholders to address crucial concerns related to mental health.

Delving into the concept of “Kolomental,” Akhigbe shed light on individuals coping with severe mental health issues and advocated for empathy and understanding for patients suffering from mental disorders.

According to him, in “Beyond “Kolomental,” the lecture unveiled often unnoticed, non-psychotic psychiatric illnesses affecting individuals across society. These challenges frequently go undiagnosed and untreated. To this end, I emphasized the need for increased awareness and support”.

Harping on the need to break the stigma surrounding mental health disorders, the university don called for open dialogue, understanding, and compassion to combat the barriers preventing individuals from seeking help. He identified the warning signs of various mental health issues, including stress, substance abuse, and bullying, among others.

While emphasising the role of individuals, communities, and institutions in promoting mental well-being, Prof. Akhigbe said early intervention and support were crucial in seeking help. He sued for Evidence-based approaches to improving mental health outcomes, just as he emphasised the significance of research in advancing the field.

Akhigbe, who noted that the 293rd inaugural lecture is a call to action, urged attendees and the broader community to engage in conversations that can transform lives.

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