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World Mental Health Day: Your mental health care, reality check

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The word “ mental health “ is as popular as the cause of last year’s pandemic. In Nigeria, it has always trended on Twitter always. “Please take care of your mental health“ or “check your mental health” are famous phrases we see on social media and send as messages to one another.

And after the #ENDSARS protests that happened in the same month as the world mental health day, it appears Nigerians did get the hang of the definition, effect and different aspects of mental health.

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.

Thousands of people celebrate this annual event every October to raise awareness about mental illness and its major effects on people’s lives. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality.”

Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community”.

According to WHO, mental health includes “subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one’s intellectual and emotional potential, among others”.

The ability to enjoy life and find a balance between life activities and psychological resilience may be considered mental health. Sleepiness, fatigue, and suicidal thoughts are some early signs of mental illness.

Let’s take you down memory line; the lockdown down tested our mental health as different individuals in our separate spaces in life.

It was almost the same thing for everyone, jobs were lost, some salaries slashed, we lived in a country where no allowance was given for the time we could not work(I wished my passport wasn’t green), and every day as the result from NCDC came, we lost hope and lost grip of whatever was left of our mental health.

And if you live in the city of Lagos, you know the bills were not just going to just disappear, lockdown or no lockdown. Everybody prayed that the year 2020 should end quickly; some avoided the news, others avoided checking NCDC, looked up for memes and skits that could distract us from the actual situation that almost made us “mad”.

And when we were gradually going back to the new normal, #ENDSARS protests came, and the pictures and videos that came out of it took another toll on our dear hearts. Again. we shook, and I saw how it affected the mental health of the Lagos youth and the average Nigerian person.

Yes, they say most of us are running mad in Lagos, but I think I would be correct to say we all almost did run mad with all that went down last year.

So as we celebrate this year’s Mental health day, here are some keynotes you should keep in mind about mental health.

Depression is real

depression

Feeling down is not the only sign of depression. Often, depression leads to a long and despondent mood lasting weeks or months. The world’s most common mental health problem, depression, affects more than a 260million people of all races and ages. It affects more women than men, and it manifests differently in different people.

Anxiety

An anxiety disorder is a type of mental illness. When you suffer from anxiety disorders, you may experience fear and dread in certain situations and things. Physical symptoms of anxiety include pounding heartbeats and sweating.

It’s normal to feel anxious sometimes. Anxiety and nervousness are normal emotions when facing a problem at work, attending an interview, taking a test or making a big decision. However, sometimes anxiety is helpful.

Suicide

Suicide occurs almost twice as often as murder. Suicidal individuals feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. An individual who feels hopeless believes that no one can solve their particular problem. Feeling helpless makes a person immobilized, unable to take steps to solve problems.

Most people who seriously consider or attempt suicide usually have a personal or family history of severe anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) or schizophrenia.

Mental health crisis facts

Nigeria has Africa’s highest caseload of depression and ranks 15th in the world in the frequency of suicide, according to WHO. There are less than 150 psychiatrists in this country of 200 million, and WHO estimates that fewer than 10 per cent of mentally ill Nigerians have access to the care they need.

What about the children?

Most mental health conditions begin by the age of 14, but most go undetected and untreated. Depression is among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.

In 15-19-year-olds, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death. Childhood trauma can lead to mental health disorders and poor academic performance. So yes, even the children’s mental health is as severe as ours.

What we can do

Consume Comedy – Comedy helps to make us happy by making us laugh and smile.

Pharmacotherapy – This involves the prescription of antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and lithium to treat mental illness.

Physical activity – physical activity such as sports, walking, and cycling releases hormones, sometimes including endorphins, which can lift a person’s mood

Talk about it – Find someone willing to listen to what you are going through and offer suggestions for overcoming whatever challenge you are facing at the time.

Meditation – Meditation has many mental health benefits, such as reducing anxiety, depression, and stress.

Other options include eating properly, have enough sleep, expressive therapy like music therapy or even just take a break when you need to.

Read ALSO: https://lagospost.ng/5-ways-to-keep-your-mental-health-in-check/

There is a saying that we are all mad in Lagos, and it is estimated that 30 million Nigerians suffer from mental illness, with depression as the highest cause.

So let us do ourselves a favour this year as we join the campaign and fight again mental health.

Let’s be an inspiration to someone out there, a call line in a time of need and a helpline in a time of despair.

Depression is real; suicides are still happening, mental health is not just some new work we learnt, Mental health care is for all, and let’s make it a reality

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