Mental health is such an underrated issue. Nigerians do not really care about their mind. Someone will even ask if there is anything like mental health. Did our forefathers worry about that? Yet they lived longer than men of this day. What we also fail to put into consideration is that the days of our forefathers are not like this day; there were no social media in their days, a man’s wealth was measured by the number of wives he had, cattles and farmland, all they worried about was basically food to eat.
In their days, life was not as “difficult” as it is today. It was simpler. The demands of this day are weighing people down. The married need to work incessantly to meet up with the demands of the society and be able to give their children the best. The young want to make quick money and be like their age mates that look great on social media. The rush, the pressure has pushed so many people into things they never dreamt of doing. Everyone wants to belong.
People live fake lives and pretend to be who they are not. The kids fall sick, your aged mother needs to be taken care of, you have deadlines to meet, and a host of others are things that strain out mind.
All these are going down somewhere; the mind. We keep mounting pressures on our mind, not understanding the extent of the damage we are causing. You might think that this is a joke but trust me it’s not. Half of the country have one mental issue or another which they don’t even know. Hold on please, we always get it wrong. Once we mention “mental” our Nigerian mindset points at mad person. We need to change that. There is a difference between poor mental health and mental disorder.
“Mental health talks about mental well-being, emotions, thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, our social connections, and our understanding of the world around us. A mental illness is an illness that affects the way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others. There are many different mental illnesses, and they have different symptoms that impact peoples’ lives in different ways.”
Some people may have the former without having the latter. Last year, suicide was the trend. Individuals took their lives through so many means, drinking of sniper, jumping into the Lagoon, and various other means. This I can assure you is due to the poor mental health of Nigerians.
A healthy mind is a healthy being. If your mind is sick, then you are in more danger than being physically ill. In this era tagged “age of anxiety and mental health crises”, mental health should be top in our priority list.
What ways can you protect your mental health?
Though we cannot control the stress which the modern day demands mount on our minds, there are steps we can take to protect our mind.
- See a therapist: This one is what Nigerians don’t do. Do we even have therapists in this country? I’m sure cobwebs have taken over their offices if we once had one. The truth is that Nigerians don’t think that therapy is important. We watch movies and see people who visit therapists as weak. This is not the case. Talking to someone about issues can help. But talking to a Psychologist is better.
- Don’t isolate yourself: Loneliness has been described as one of the health risks of modern life. This is because in this day, we are connected yet disconnected at the same time. We view each other’s status but rarely make out time to see each other or have a face-to-face conversation, talk about things. Chatting is different from real life conversation. Through the phone, you read words, you don’t get to weigh the emotions and facial expression of the other party. Good relationship protects others. Find people that will create time to talk to you. Make friends with people you can freely talk with.
- Set boundaries: Do not always agree to everything and everyone. You need to set boundaries for your own peace of mind even if others are not happy with it. Decide what is important. Arrange everything on the scale of importance and follow strictly. You may lose your mind if you agree to everything.
- Take daily breaks: While it’s important to work and work, it’s more important to rest. Try to take a break sometimes to do things that will renew your energy. It might be listening to music, chatting with people, watching a movie, reading a book, and so on.
- Practice self-care: Don’t stay awake at night drowning bottles of thoughts that won’t help solve your problem. Rather sleep well, eat when you should, try to exercise. You must not jog in the morning or visit the gym to exercise, trekking to places that are not too far is a form of exercise.
Inasmuch as Nigerians don’t take care of their mental wellbeing, you can be different. Take care of your mental health, tell your friends to do the same, tell someone to tell another. Perhaps, through this means, our generation may have greater number of adults with healthy minds.