Mental health isn’t a new cool phrase in town. As a matter of fact, it has everything to do with our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Mental health affects how we feel, think and act. It also determine how we handle stress, relate with people and make choices. It is important to identify our mental health in at every stage of our lives.
From the inception of our birth in Nigeria with all its attendant problems, we are automatically potential candidates for mental health issues so it beats me that we don’t like talking about mental health problems. Perhaps we mistake mental health for madness and the fear of being stigmatized or labeled feeds and propels the culture of silence when it comes to mental health. We are grateful for organizations like Y4Y Nigeria, Neem Foundation and the likes that have taken it upon them to advocate and create awareness for mental health issues in Nigeria. So much damage has been done to our psyche that it will take more than the effort of a handful of NGOs to tackle the problems of Mental Health in Nigeria.
Take for instance the recent arrest and abuse of some women in Abuja. Imagine the trauma they were exposed to and most of them will be damaged for life by it. These women suffered so much abuse and the sad part is they will never find justice or receive proper professional therapy. It is believed that over 30 percent of Nigerians have mental health issues. It starts from the home, the school, work place and the society at large.
Some mental health issues can be biological like genes, brain chemistry and family history of mental health problem but the majority is caused by life experiences, trauma and abuse. We are advised to be observant of people around us because things like sleeping too much or too little, sudden pulling away from people social activities, low energy, feeling hopeless and helpless, feeling unusually confused and sudden indulgence in smoking and drinking could be signs of mental health issues.
Others may include yelling, fighting, self harm, feeling numb, hearing voices and many more. We need to stop our Nigerian mentality and learn to observe any unusual behavior in people around us as these could be signs of mental health issues and if not well managed can lead to tragedies. The problems of Nigeria alone are enough to give anyone mental health problems. As we go into mental health week, let’s learn to give help and support to people with mental health problems.