As the nation’s socio-economic condition worsens with hope seemingly appearing bleak, the Nigerian Medical Association and mental health experts have advised Nigerians to control their emotions and not allow the economic situation have a profound impact on their mental health.
This followed the recent reports about cases of suicide happening across the country.
According to the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, more than 60 million Nigerians are suffering from mental illnesses, noting that only about 10 percent of them can access appropriate care.
The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the NMA, Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, in a statement, urged Nigerians to guard their mental health as the looming hardship in the country may have adverse effects on their well-being.
Olowojebutu said, “Nigerians must control their emotions to ensure their wellbeing and mental health are in good shape. In times like this, emotion flares, expectation rises, depression looms, and hope fades.
“At any rate, you must not toy with your mental health because there is a nexus between your overall well-being and mental health. Once the latter is negatively affected, your health gradually dwindles and tumbles.
“Necessity is the mother of invention. More than ever, the time we live has mandatorily occasioned the need to forge and invent a path to economic prosperity, happiness, and a healthier lifestyle to lubricate the soul and body.”
“They should cut extravagant spending, be deaf to destabilising news, invest time in what makes you happy, engage in exercise, speak to a professional psychologist, and be positive.”
He observed that the prices of commodities were changing almost twice every 24 hours, adding that Nigerians must find a way to avoid depression.
The chairman noted that it was solely the government’s responsibility to secure the nation’s borders and safeguard the citizens’ mental health via its policies.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH Healthwise, a Professor of Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medical Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State, Taiwo Sheikh, lamented that a lot of Nigerians are frustrated and distressed by the current economic situation in the country.
He noted that Nigerians no longer enjoy optimum mental well-being as a result of recent happenings in the country.
Sheikh, who is the immediate past President of the Association of Psychiatry in Nigeria, lamented that a lot of Nigerians are frustrated and distressed by the current hardship in the country.
Sheikh clarified that mental well-being is not a mere absence of mental illness but the ability of an individual to cope with the day-to-day challenges of life without hurting another person.
“Now, when we say mental illness and we say optimum mental well-being, there is in-between that illness and mental well-being. That in-between is what we refer to as this period of distress and frustration.
“So, if you don’t handle such distressed situations very well, they can progress to clearcut mental illness. And if you can handle such a situation of distress adequately, then you can resolve it and then, your optimum well-being comes back. And you can face the challenges of life and move on. Situations like naira scarcity disrupt optimum mental well-being,” he said.
Giving insight into the importance of having optimum mental well-being. Sheikh said, “Your ability to have your aspiration without hurting another person and pursue it within the expected norms of socio-cultural setting and contribute to the development of your community.
“But the current situation in the country has shaken the optimum mental well-being of Nigerians and pushed many people towards distress and frustration.
“It has shaken them of that comfort zone of optimum mental well-being. They have shifted away from that comfort zone. Nigerians no longer enjoy optimum mental well-being.
“So, we are struggling to cope and in our struggle to cope, we start throwing our anger at others and start showing abnormal behaviours.”
Sheikh urged the government to do things that will bring down the frustration in the land.
He added, “Government should do something very appropriate that will reduce suffering, frustration, and distress that people are going through.”