The nationwide protests against police brutality and injustice in the country mark a difficult time for Nigerians. The likes of Mentally Aware Nigeria and the Emotions Doctor, Oyinkansola Alabi are here to tell you that you do not have to fight yourself even as you fight the system. Take care of your mind and emotions and how you react to everything going on. It is okay not to be okay with all of it and seek ways to address the issues.
Navigating mental health issues during the nationwide protests: Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI)
Whether you are out protesting or protesting online or simply observing from the sidelines and sympathetic to the cause, there is no denying that it can all get very overwhelming and fast. Here are some of the mental health related issues you or those around you might be faced with at this time:
• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), especially for those who have been previously brutalized by the police or other law enforcement agents. They are prone to flashes of their past ordeals and forced to relive such experiences.
• Panic Attacks; the heavy presence of armed policemen during these protests and frequent reports of people getting shot at or killed doing the protests can trigger panic attacks.
• Anxiety attacks when going out.
These are some of the common issues people might be faced with at this time, howvever the list is not exhaustive.
What are some of the things you can do to take care of your mental health and manage your responses in these difficult times?
• Ensure that you get enough sleep everyday. The importance of at least 8 hours of sleep every night cannot be overemphasized. As difficult as this may be to do, especially for those living in major cities, it is essential to maintain a good balance mentally.
• Limit your time on social media and reduce your news intake. Try as much as possible to cut off sources of trigger news. Frequent news updates about the protests and killings could trigger panic attacks and make you more nervous or anxious.
• Reduce caffeine intake. Excess caffeine can trigger your ‘fight or flight’ mode and make you jumpy.
• Reach out to verified mental health care professionals and organizations. There are many mental health organizations offering free mental health counselling. Mentally Aware Nigeria initiative is also offering some free services. It is important to talk to someone when you are feeling overwhelmed
• If you are currently coping with a mental illness, try as much as possible to avoid your triggers this period and safeguard your mental health.
• If you are a protester on protest grounds; you can use the nearest available “Panic Cart” currently being moved out to protest grounds by Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative. These carts are to give support to those who may experience panic attacks on protest grounds and educate others on how to help others who may be having panic attacks. Carts encouraging people to sleep right will also follow shortly.
• It is not only protesters having a hard time this period, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative is offering a special program called ‘Daily Support’ for those who need someone to talk to at the end of a stressful day.
You can reach Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative:
Hotline: 0809-111-MANI (0809 111 6264)
Social media: @mentallyawareng
Emotions City/Emotions Doctor – Oyinkansola Alabi
While speaking on tackling mental health and Nigeria Oyinkansola Alabi, popularly referred to as the Emotions Doctor; the lead researcher and facilitator at Emotions City, a leading emotional intelligence centre, she said “Nigeria is a stressful country and we are trying to be emotionally stable in an unstable country. So it is a tall order.” She went on to speak on the nationwide protests against police brutality and the other issues the country is faced with, saying, “At every point in time, it looks like there are things attempting to eliminate your joy and peace and happiness, so an average human being would react. I just think that if we had a better environment, we will all respond better. But if we’re going through this level of pain, there’s no way people will not experience stress, anxiety, depression and too many things put together. That’s the whole perspective from the person to the environment.”
“Emotions City is the centre for emotional intelligence in Africa. What that means is that we’re a behavioural change Academy, we focus on emotional intelligence training, certifications, therapy, employee assistance, family consulting, marital consulting, adolescents, youth, as long as you’re a human being, we know that you need to be emotionally stable. So we are the bridge between emotional instability and stability. Emotion City works and functions from Ikoyi, Lagos, and Texas in the US. And everything that we do revolves around behavioural change and mental health, we just want people to be emotionally stable, we move them from a position of instability to stability. Yes, that’s our vision. That’s our mission is to preserve what it is to be human. Because clearly, this movement that all of us are involved in right now is just trying to call people’s attention to the fact that you need to be human again, you have become insensitive, you have become lacking in empathy and as long as you do that, you are moving from being human into being an animal, you are transiting from building a nation to a jungle. We are not animals; we need to be treated as human beings. That’s what this exact an entire movement is about. So for us, the bottom line is to preserve what it is to be human and help people as much as possible to be emotionally stable.”
Emotions City is supporting the movement by providing over 200 free therapy slots for protesters.
You can reach Emotions City:
Phone numbers: 0701450923, 08125723042
Social media: @emotionscity