Film producer Tunde Kelani says that artistes have the responsibility to learn more about mental illness in order to apply the knowledge in their movies.
Kelani told journalists on Thursday in Lagos that such movies would influence and educate the society about mental illness.
He spoke on the side-lines of the Annual Conference organised by the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba in Lagos.
The conference has the theme, “Religion and Mental Illness’’.
“We are in a period of cultural vacuum and that is why we are witnessing so much ignorance in its representation.
“For the artiste and filmmakers, we have the responsibility to find out first because, we, even in civilised societies, need to undergo counselling in health issues, especially mental illness.
“Because the artiste is limited in knowledge, they, therefore, tend to portray somebody who has mental illness in ways that are sensational enough just to make money.
“We have the responsibility to, first of all, learn more before we can apply that to influence and educate the society,’’ he said.
Also, the hospital’s ARD President, Dr Kenneth Uwaje, said the role of religion as regards mental illness largely had to do with the fact that religion was a component of the Nigerian culture.
Uwajeh said: “The cultural perspective is a therapeutic model because when you understand how people think, feel and understand, then you can address the issues they have.
“Religious practices are where many of these patients turn to because they are largely inbuilt as a way of life’’.
The president said that there was the need for religious leaders to be knowledgeable about the signs, symptoms and effect of mental illness so that they could bring patients to the hospital.
“We want to permute the world of the religious perspective in order to emancipate those who are trapped.
“We want to be able to reduce the stigma that patients faced, including being flogged or stripped in the name of expunging a demon in public.
“This complicates the mental illness because the patient, already with mental illness, is looked upon with disdain and even when he gets the treatment he does not forget his experience.
“Religion can help, but people use it to hurt; we want to give people direction on how to use religion to help and help alone,’’ Uwajeh said.
The Nation News