World Mental Health Day 2021: Coping with Mental Disorders

In Nigeria, issues of mental health and its awareness is spreading fast. In the past, naked or half-clothed individuals who roamed the streets or cities formed the perception of mental illness in Nigeria, as these persons were referred to as lunatics because they lived and ate garbage from the streets. Moreover, people widely believed that their condition was incurable; therefore, leading to a lack of adequate treatment.

World Health Organization states that mental health is an essential component of health, as it is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition implies that mental health is critical to a person’s ability to think, operate and interact with his environment, earn a living and enjoy life.

Nevertheless, there are many different mental disorders with different presentations. They are generally characterized by abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviour, and relationships with others. Symptoms of mental disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, dementia, and developmental disorders, including autism.

Many people exhibit characters that create mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when diagnosed and confirmed by an expert. Ongoing signs and symptoms affect one’s ability to function properly. However, if certain signs appear in a short space of time, they may offer clues.

There are effective strategies for preventing mental disorders as people who receive support from healthcare services, social support and care can help battle the mild stage before it becomes fully blown. Family involvement in the care of people with mental disorders is significant. Talking can help put a problem in perspective, making one feel supported and less isolated. Regular exercise can also help to concentrate, sleep better and boost self-confidence.

Additionally, structure to daily routines helps prevent unnecessary stress, with regular times for eating, playing, learning, being with loved ones, and sleeping. The community at large has a role to play in respecting the rights and needs of people with disabilities.

The World Health Organization recognizes World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is “Mental Health in an Unequal World”. The goal is to help raise mental health awareness, so everyone can contribute to ensuring that people living with mental illness can live better lives with dignity.

The HACEY Mental Health and Productivity program aims to improve access to quality mental health services and information in schools, workplaces and communities across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria. It is a direct response to young people’s mental health needs, including those in the workplace environment, academic institutions, and communities. Information and support services provided through this program will focus 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.

Wriiten by Tomiyin Ayibiowu.

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