Expert calls for increased awareness on mental health 

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By Stella Kabruk

A medical doctor, Dr Joyce Oseghale, has called for massive awareness on mental health
for better understanding and for fast recovery by patients.

She made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Kaduna, adding that the burden of mental health had
continued to grow with significant impacts on the health of the people, the society and the country in general.

She said “mental health awareness is important because it reminds us that it is an important part of overall health and well-being.

National growth LS

“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps to
determine how we handle stress, relate with others, and make healthy choices.

“Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood to adolescence through adulthood.”

She added that mental health awareness could help one to understand the symptoms, find professional treatment “and break the
stigma that leaves many people suffering in secret.

“Talking about mental health helps to improve our communities by making it acceptable for those suffering from mental illnesses
to seek help, learn to cope and get on the road to recovery.

“In addition, mental health is not just about mental illnesses; it is also about maintaining a positive state of wellbeing. Mental
health awareness can break the stigma of needing mental health care.

“Mental health disorder does not mean that you are `crazy’, actually, mental health impacts millions of people across the country.

“But with more awareness and the right care, you will realise that you are not alone. Having mental health support gets you one step
closer to mental health recovery.”

According to her, a survey conducted in 2019 by Africa Polling Institute shows how awareness of mental health is low in the country.

She said “the survey shows that most respondents were aware that they have mental health disorders, recognised and commonly
caused by drug abuse, possession by evil spirits and sickness of the brain, with majority of the patients taken to prayer houses for
spiritual interventions.”

She said an estimated 20 to 30 per cent of the country’s population are believed to suffer from mental disorders.

The expert said mental health awareness is important because it affects relationships with others, leads to new problems with friends
and family, law enforcement or school officials.

She added that mental health also affects how one learns, concentrate and ability to organise and ability to communicate.

“Mental health problems can lead to other problems such as experimenting with drugs or alcohol, being sexually promiscuous,
being hostile and aggressive and engaging in risks behaviours,” she said.

She listed inherited genes, perinatal infections, environmental factors, stressful live events, nutrition and psychoactive substance use
as factors that trigger mental health problems. (NAN)

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