Nigeria

‘Stop victimizing people with mental health challenges’

As Nigeria join other countries to mark the 2021 World Mental Health Day, a Mental Health Awareness Advocate in Niger state, Aisha Obiageli Wakaso, over the weekend in Minna, Niger state called for an end to the stigmatization of victims of mental health-related issues.

The call for an end to all forms of victimization and discrimination against such people according to Aisha has become necessary because ‘every individual has an element of mental issue but only differs in magnitude, possible triggers and well level of occurrences’.

Aisha, a journalist and founder, ‘Kings’ Initiative’ also suggested that governments at all levels and corporate organizations should consider setting up trauma centres and private wards for victims instead of compounding their problems with; stigmatization, discrimination or taunting them.

She however expressed sadness that lots of victims cannot access medical help in hospitals, Minna General Hospital in particular because the facility lacked privacy which is among the most important antidote for someone with mental health challenges.

Besides seeking medical attention to come out of their challenges, Obiageli Wakaso encouraged persons with traces of mental health challenges to adopting alternative measures of coming out of it by, ‘staying away from people that deny them joy and happiness’.

She told participants to the 2021 World Mental Health Awareness Walk who are mostly journalists after the exercise which started at the Tunga round-about and terminated at the Obasanjo Complex round-about on the need to prevail on the government to invest in addressing mental health challenges not only in Niger state but at the national level.

Aisha however lamented that “We do not have trauma centres in Niger state or experts to deal with a large number of mental health challenged people and the situation of mental health ward and needed medical assistance at the Minna General Hospital is not encouraging”.

“Government should try and establish a private ward conducive enough for victims because people with mental health challenges are shy and embarrassed to come out publicly. You do not expect them to go to public hospitals where people will see them crying during their moments of crisis. Privacy is needed when offering privacy and seeking help”.

The worst and most wicked thing you can do to someone with mental health challenges is to stigmatize, taunt or discriminate against them when in an actual sense all that they needed is a little bit of love and kindness to get over their challenges.

While cautioning against discrimination and stigmatization of victims due to inherent dangers, the 2021 World Mental Health Awareness Walk Convener however revealed that ‘lots of people hide their challenges out of fear of stigmatization and they end up committing suicide or engage in drug addiction’.

She nevertheless encouraged affected persons to speak out about what they are going through and seek medical help, adding that, “As much as I agree that prayers, yoga and exercise can help, counselling, medication and therapy is the best way to treat mental health disorder”.

“Also avoid anything that makes you stressed-up, keep away from people who criticize and put you down and avoid competitions. Study yourself and your system to know if you have the symptoms of mental health disorder which included the inability to sleep, eating normally lot or not eating at all”.

Other symptoms of the Mental Health Challenge which should be looked out for my parents and relatives in their loved one she said included; experiencing constant depression and having a lack of energy like any other normal individual.

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