(VIDEO) THE MENTAL HEALTH OF NIGERIANS LIVING IN NIGERIA : WEEKLY SECURITY DASHBOARD FOR THE PERIOD NOVEMBER 21-26, 2021
Being a Nigerian living in Nigeria seems to have become the fastest passport, or better still, free visa to mental health disorientation, retardation and ultimate breakdown.
On Monday, November 15, news made waves of a resident medical doctor working with the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Dr Crystal Akpan, who allegedly committed suicide. Though reasons for his action were unknown, Intel sources suspect the deceased, married with three children, took his life due to his inability to scale through his professional exams.
The above incident is not the first, and most likely will not be the last incident as the ignored psyche of most residents have become so depleted with several expectations, a spike in insecurity, heightened poverty, unemployment and unabated increases in the cost of living.
The more intense the overall security crisis of the nation degenerates, the worse its impact on the mental health of the citizens.
The importance of mental health can no longer be compromised, especially in a nation besieged with insurgency, banditry, herders/farmers unending clash, a daily orgy of killings, and other increased criminal activities such as Sexual Based Violence, Ritual killings, Infrastructural and Property Vandalism, Kidnapping, drug abuse, Internet fraud.
In addition, the absence of prosecution of those behind these acts further brings to limelight the government’s helplessness in assuring security personnel and residents alike of their safety in perilous times.
The need to rebuild confidence in Nigerians by seeing to their immediate psychosocial needs has become paramount in the face of aggravated trauma and fear caused by records of a daily orgy of the violence wreaked on security operatives and citizens alike.
The attendant resulting challenge is that many become depressed, suicidal or embark on different criminal activities.
This is because mental disorders, normally triggered by the environment or circumstance in which one finds themselves, are temporary or chronic conditions that affect thinking, feeling, mood, and behaviour.
The critical role of mental health post-COVID-19 is vividly evident in the 2021 theme by Mental Health America, which is “Tools 2 Thrive”.
“Tools 2 Thrive “serves as a means of providing practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase their resiliency regardless of their situation or national environment in which they find themselves.
The signals of increased psychological breakdown continue to manifest themselves in several dastard acts within November alone.
The case of a father using one of his children for ritual purposes literarily broke the internet in early November. During an interview with BBC News, Igbo, the inconsolable wife and mother of five (exclusive of the victim, Chimdalu), who lives in one room with her entourage, gave the highpoint of their poverty and hardship, which was such that during and after delivery of Chimdalu, feeding was an issue that her mother-in-law had to resort to begging to feed her.
In a related development same period, another son, Victor Obot, killed his father in Uyo LGA, blaming him for the spate of misfortune that befell him.
Going beyond tradition, where overwhelming records of deaths have become a daily norm in Nigeria (212 deaths recorded between November 1 – 12), and the hunter being part of the haunted worsens the citizens’ mental health.
Of the 212 deaths, 20 are security operatives, including a serving Brigadier General and a Retired Air Vice-Marshal. The unabated attacks on security operatives inclusive may dampen the masses morale, for when security personnel become inept due to the inability to defend themselves, the citizens lose hope in the ability of the nation to protect them.
As if not done with the litany of demonstrations of mental disorders, residents in most parts of Nigeria woke up this week to “emptied and naked” cars, ostensibly an orchestration of mental disorder associated with poverty, hunger and a dire need for survival against all odds.
Intelligence sources state that poverty in adulthood has a positive relationship with depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, psychological distress, and suicide. Poverty affects mental health through various social and biological mechanisms acting at multiple levels, including individuals, families, local communities, and nations.
Suffice to say that mental health is not restricted to civilians alone. Security operatives are also victims. Moreover, the possible outcome of increased violence against security operatives may result in loss of confidence and low self-esteem.
With the knowledge that the fastest way to stagnate and destroy a nation is to incapacitate and render the security apparatus inept, the psychological trauma inflicted on security personnel and civilians, which may not immediately be apparent, needs to be urgently addressed.
The danger of ignoring the mental disorder is that at the manifestation of its consequences, victims become a menace not only to themselves but also to the nation at large.
This is because mental retardation ultimately degenerates into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), Mental Retardation, acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Depression. The outcome results in increased criminal activities, a spike in drug abuse and GBV, depression, suicide and other related adverse activities.
In alliance with the United States theme “Tools 2 Thrive”, there is a dire need for the government to engage the Nigerian Association of Clinical Psychologists for psychotherapy collaboration urgently.
Similarly, employers should always take cognizance of the mental health of their staff by ensuring the existence of amiable two-way communication channels and feedback mechanisms, a friendly working environment and reducing work-related stress capable of triggering mental breakdown.
Eons Intelligence advises that employers minimize infringing upon or usurping their staff’s rights and personal ethics for corporate interest, as this may adversely affect their mental health.
According to statistics, organizations that prioritize Work-Life Balance (WLB) of their staff and conducive working environment enjoy higher employee productivity than their counterparts. Moreover, this translates to enhanced organization productivity and performance, even more than employers’ projection.
The critical importance of employees WLB recently came to the fore again in the case of “GREAT RESIGNATION”, which saw American workers quit in record numbers.
The study stated that “employees feeling burned out” was the primary reason they quit.
According to CNN Business analysis released on November 17, Americans who resigned were up to 4.3 million in August and another 4.4 million in September despite employers raising wages and offering incentives.
Amidst the “Great Resignation”, several employees advocated for a four-day workweek to emphasize the need for WLB and mental health.
“Several experiments are in support the idea. For example, one oft-cited study in Iceland, where workers reduced their hours without reducing pay, received overwhelming support. Researchers found that employees’ wellbeing dramatically increased across a range of indicators, such as perceived burnout, mental, psychological, physical and emotional stress”, Intelligence sources say.
Microsoft tried a shorter workweek in Japan in 2019; it found productivity went up by almost 40%.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Staff at Atom Bank, the UK’s first smartphone-based bank, commenced a four-day working week for the same pay to make them “happier and healthier”.
According to the Times of London, the bank’s 430 employees have been doing 34-hour weeks over four days instead of 37.5 hours over five days since November 1, they work 9.30 am to 4.30 pm from Mondays to Thursdays, adding an extra hour to their normal day but taking Fridays off.
Eons Intelligence, therefore, advises that political, religious and traditional leaders should embark on creating massive awareness of the need for everyone to ensure their mental wellbeing always.
Families, relatives, and the public should make it a point of duty to be their brothers’ keeper.
With a greater focus on mental wellness and increased depression awareness, together with Work-Life Balance, the nation will achieve increased employee productivity, organization performance, and a healthy nation, where growth and development will both be feasible and sustainable.
November 14 - 19
November 21 - 26