Nwitte-Eze Onyekachi

Mental Health Issues in Nigeria- too Serious to be Downplayed

mental health issues

Mental health issues refer to any condition which causes serious disorder in a person’s behaviour, mood or thinking. Various mental health issues include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia, addiction, bipolar, mania, paranoia, obsessive compulsive disorder… too many to mention. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a white people problem neither is it for weak people only.

There is a popular Nigerian saying “many are mad, few are roaming”. When people make this statement, it is laughed at and ended there. In Nigeria, mental health issues only comprise of the naked man running around the market looking dirty or the tattered woman talking to herself on the express way. Truth is mental health issues affect at least one in five persons in Nigeria but the problem is mental health issues has been downplayed. If you told your friends you were suffering from depression or other form of mental illness, you would be the joke of the century and comments like “abeg this is Nigeria, this one thinks she’s in America, you watch too many movies… will be flying around

There is nothing wrong in realizing and acknowledging that you suffer mental health issues. Like every other health issue, this can be taken care of and treated. Mental health issues are rampant in Nigeria. There are too many issues going unchecked in this country. What other explanation can you give for a man who rapes a 10 month old baby or what do you think happens in the mind of a raped victim? Do we want to talk about people who graduated over 10 years with no jobs and have families to carter for? Why else will an oppressed people vote or celebrate their oppressor if they don’t suffer from a mental condition? Matters of fact, these ones are completely mad.

People commit suicide every day in Nigeria believe it or not and it’s because they can’t tell anyone what happens inside for fear of being jeered at. Nobody wants to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist because they don’t want society to laugh at them. When you have malaria or typhoid, you go to the doctor right? When you have a headache, you visit the pharmacy not so? So why not a psychologist when you can’t control your feelings and behavior?

If you do not take care of your mental health, you won’t be able to cope with the people around you. You become irritable to your friends, family and colleagues, nobody wants to be around you as they start to feel you’re odd and being around you is exhausting. This makes you even worse as people start to avoid your company. Even you wouldn’t want to be around anyone who isn’t bringing peace to your life. Mental health issues can affect anybody and is more serious than we think.

Don’t shame anyone who needs help or who you suspect has a problem with their behavior, thinking or moods. Help them instead. If they refuse to seek help, bring help to them. Contact a psychologist and if you can’t find one, visit a good hospital. They will be able to point you to the right direction and offer help. Take care of your mental health and stay healthy.


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