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Association calls on President Buhari to sign bill to establish psychological council

By Regina Onyegbula 

The Nigerian Psychological Association (NPA) have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill for an ACT to establish the Nigerian Council for Psychologists (NCfP) already passed by National Assembly for the good of Nigerians.

Prof Michael Ezenwa, President, NPA, who made the call at a press briefing in Abuja, stressed that when the NCfP bill is sighed into Law, it would provide the needed regulation for high standard psychologist that Nigerians deserves.

Ezenwa described psychology as the scientific study of human behaviour with a view to predicting and controlling same, it is a highly specialised scientific field that spans into all areas of human endeavour.

According to him, psychology has different branches that addressed different areas of human needs which includes:

''clinical psychology, military psychology, forensic psychology, school psychologists, Industrial and organisational psychologists and social psychologists.

The psychologist pointed that many of the developmental challenges facing the country had to do with negative attitudes which he said required professionally planned behavioural changes which psychologists could offer Nigeria.

He however noted that with the assent of Mr President to the bill, it would become possible to engage the verious sectors for planned and motivated changes in behaviour.

''This is the area psychologists have been trained and we are willing to support our government to address these issues.

''This is our country and no persons from outside can salvage it than us, no matter how the individual pretend to love Nigeria.

''The Nigerian Council for Psychologists bill when signed into law, will provide the needed regulation for high standard psychologists that Nigerians deserve.

''It is my belief that many of our issues as a country may have stemmed from absence of psychologists in the main frame of the public and private sectors in Nigeria," he said.

Ezenwa said, if Nigeria were to have had functional psychological services centres across the country, many persons that committed suicide may have had a space to vent their concerns that lead to the regrettable act.

''If Nigeria had integrated psychologists in all hospital, both public and private, ministries and agencies of government, if individuals and communities have had the space to discuss their challenges with trained psychologists,

''There would have been many opportunities for the citizens to seek and receive help and this may have arrested many mental and social issues from escalation.

''Indeed many issues of suicide are related to mental health challenge of depression and even in severe depression when medication may become important, psychological treatment is still an integral component of intervention for better outcome.

''In the absence of these services therefore, proper management of the condition will become a challenge.

''This is the concept of psychological first aid. Just as medical first aid, it reduces the possibility of a negative mental health event to become basis of future health challenge," he added.

The Psychologist expert said providing opportunities for Psychological services would reduce the incidence of mental health, drug involvement especially by young people, provide treatment for needy patients and compliment the services of other health professionals.

According to him, the 2018 large scale nation-wide survey on drug use, showed Nigeria had 14.4 percent prevalence rate

He said that the above translated to the current estimated population reflects 14.3 million Nigerians aged 15 to 64 used non prescriptive psychoactive substances in the year under study.

''This prevalence rate is quite high against the 2016 global rate of 5.6 percent while the age bracket of 25 to 39 years consumed comparatively highest volume of the drugs.

''The study showed that cannabis was the most abused followed by opioids especially tramadol and codeine. This is a major concern as the consumption cut across both male and female.

''There is urgent need to develop strategies to address this dangerous trend and psychologists have a lot to offer here and regulation of the profession through assent to the bill will make this possible,"he said.

Ezenwa said that control or regulation is the best condition to guarantee excellence, best practice and compliance with quality assurance to the consuming public.

''By signing the bill into law, it will become possible to define who is a psychologist in Nigeria. It is important to refer to the common saying that ''half knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance".

''Many Nigerians are found in internally displaced persons camps today with little or no form of psychological support, the implication is that many of the dislocated Nigerians develop different mental health conditions.

''One important aspect of responsibility of a regulatory council is to ensure that the public has a body to register acts of service failure, dissatisfaction, or professional misconduct of members," he said.

Ezenwa however added that the NPA envisages a critical role in the current disposition of governance in the following areas:

''Support the Federal Government to develop a national framework on psychological support of internally displaced persons and victims of violent extremism.

''Support the office of the security adviser to enrich the current security strategies to stem violent extremism and militancy, kidnapping, banditry and similar vices.

''Induce citizenship diplomacy in Nigerians especially those in diaspora to contribute to national security and development, among others.