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Mental Health


ental, physical and social health are essential and interwoven components of life, and it is almost impossible to achieve one without the other. Sadly, in most of the world, the subject of mental health is still not recognized and accorded the same degree of importance as physical health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 450 million people suffer from a mental or behavioural disorder. Mental health disorders are fast becoming a significant public health concern.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting socio-economic impact have taken a toll on people’s mental health, exacerbating existing mental health conditions owing to work and school closures, job losses, isolation, disease experience and inadequate access to health services.

Mental health conditions place a significant burden on all facets of society, including, families, workplaces, communities and the wider economy. Family members who are usually the primary caregivers of people with mental health disorders are burdened with the financial responsibility associated with treatment and care. It also limits the economic participation of persons with mental health disorders, thereby restricting their ability to make productive contributions to their communities and national economy.

The Mental Health and Productivity program

The Mental Health and Productivity program is a direct response to young people’s mental needs, including those in the workplace environment, academic institutions, and communities. Information and support services provided through this program will centre on increasing awareness of mental health and mental health services, addressing myths that perpetuate discrimination and stigma against people with mental health conditions and the effects of cyberbullying.

What is mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is a state of well-being that enables individuals to cope with everyday life, manage stress, work productively, and contribute to their families and communities.

What is mental illness?

Mental illnesses are health conditions that affects how a person feels, thinks, behaves, and interacts with other people. Mental health illnesses can be managed and treated.

Causes of Mental Illness

Mental health illness can be triggered by different factors including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems: mental illnesses sometimes run in families, suggesting that people who have a family member with a mental illness may be somewhat more likely to develop one themselves.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse

Types of Mental Illness

Mental illnesses refer to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect ones’ mood, thinking and behaviour. Examples include:

  • Depression,
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Behavioural disorder which may involve inattention, defiant behaviour, drug use, the exhibition of criminal behaviour
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictive behaviours
  • Personality disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Symptoms of mental health illness differ depending on the type and seriousness of the condition. Symptoms can include:

  • Mood swings
  • Social withdrawal,
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Long-lasting sadness
  • Inability to cope with daily activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Loss of desire to participate in any activity,
  • An unusual drop in functioning, at work, at the market at a gathering or social activities or difficulties performing familiar tasks. etc.

There are many myths and misconceptions that surround mental health problems. These result in the stigmatization, discrimination, and isolation of people living with mental health problems.

Learn the truth about the most common mental health myths.

Myth: Mental health problems cannot affect me

Fact: Mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, income, social status, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or background.

About 20 million Nigerians suffer from mental health problems of which a good number of them go without professional assistance (WHO-AIMS report)

Myth: Mental health conditions are a sign of weakness.

Fact: Mental health disorders have nothing to do with weakness or poor character. In fact, the opposite is true, fighting a mental health condition takes a great deal of strength.

Myth: People living with mental health conditions are likely to be perpetrators of violent acts.

Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people living with mental health conditions are more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.

Myth: I can’t do anything for a person with a mental health problem.

Fact: Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:

  • Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
  • Helping them access mental health services.
  • Treating them with respect.
  • Refrain from defining them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy”

Myth: Mental health conditions are permanent.
Fact: A mental health diagnosis is not a death sentence. Mental health conditions can be treated and with careful monitoring and management, one can live a fulfilled and productive life.

Many people with mental illnesses who are diagnosed early and receive treatment recover well. With careful monitoring and management, one can live a fulfilled and productive life.
There are many effective treatments, and the sooner you seek support, the sooner you can get better. A vast range of individuals and organizations focused on providing mental health support for people living with mental health problems.

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