The Mental Health Of Nigerians Shouldn’t Be Ignored,” Says Neuropsychiatrist

Dr. Maymunah Kadiri, a Neuropsychiatrist and the Medical Director, Pinnacle Medical Services, Lagos, pleaded for Nigerians to take their mental health seriously. She mentioned that there is no immunity to any form of mental illness. A mental health disorder is usually characterized by a persistently depressed mood or a noticeable loss of interest in activities which can cause significant impairments in one’s daily life.

“Despite the various breakthroughs in the field of science, no vaccine can prevent mental health-related problems,” she says. In her opinion, Nigerians and every human being are prone to mental illnesses because there is no immunity to mental illness. Dr. Kadiri cautioned that prolonged sleeplessness, depression, stress, lack of happiness, a sudden loss of interest, anxiety disorders as well as low energy level were symptoms that might signal mental health problems.

She noted that Nigerian society was a culture medium for organisms which puts many people at the risk of mental illnesses. Dr. Kadiri pointed out that approximately 64 million Nigerians have had one form of depression or the other.

“Research has shown that one out of four Nigerians will have a mental health-related problem in their lifetime. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a lot of issues in the country; businesses are failing, things are expensive, cash is hard to come by and the basic amenities are lacking. This is taking a toll on the mental health of Nigerians; it makes people vulnerable to becoming suicidal, aggressive, violent, undisciplined, corrupt and other anti-social behaviours. The statistics may not be there, but in my observations, people are bottling up their emotions and challenges, instead of speaking out or seeking medical attention.”

An Image Depicting Mental Health

She stated that in some cases, individuals are not even aware that they are facing challenges and that this is where the support of relatives and trusted friends comes in, to help them identify the problem and to seek proper assistance. Dr. Kadiri condemned the stigmatisation and low awareness of mental health that is prevalent in Nigerian society, illustrating them as major and debilitating setbacks to the proper and necessary development and prioritisation of mental health.

“Mental health awareness in Nigeria is very low, making it difficult for people to access health care or get diagnosed or even acknowledge the fact that they may be suffering some kind of mental health issue. When the average Nigerian hears the word ‘mental illness’ his or her first thought would be madness or some sort of aggressive behaviour. But no, a mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions-disorders that can affect your mood, thinking and behaviours.”