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BusinessDay

Your wife or husband could be a mental health case (2)

Last week, I used the analogy of your wife or husband to illustrate how anyone around you could be suffering from mania or depression. In Africa, we only identify people with mental health illnesses at the peak stage. We see others as usual, except people who walk the streets naked or in rags.

My message is simple. Anyone as close as your spouse is a carrier of mental health illness waiting to be manifested with a slight trigger. It is like HIV, which cannot be seen on the surface but is hidden in the blood and veins of people. Every one of all of us is susceptible to mental health illness if pushed beyond tolerant limits.

Let’s look at another common but not publicly visible mental health illness before I discuss ways of helping people around us to be better and manage their mental and emotional well-being at work, at home and in the community.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition with recurring thoughts and repetitive behaviours that you cannot control. An OCD husband will be too mindful of the house’s cleanliness even if there are toddlers living with him. He will be predominated with thoughts of safety and call to wake up in the middle of the night to check if the doors were locked even when he locked them twice. Nigeria’s unsafe and insecure environment can turn a slightly OCD man into an obsessive door locker. If you see a man whose children run a cover on his arrival and who is obsessive about arranging or rearranging things in the house, you can suspect a mental health illness.

If you see a man whose children run a cover on his arrival and who is obsessive about arranging or rearranging things in the house, you can suspect a mental health illness

OCD wives are funny. Even if their husbands are lovely and faithful and hate other women, they will keep demanding reassurance. If you like to play Davido’s song ‘Assurance’ for them every day or make it their ringtones, the thought of you leaving them at a point in life will always dominate them. People with symptoms of OCD overestimate threats. They are perfectionists with an enlarged sense of responsibility and less ability to deal with uncertainty.

In the UK, about one in fifty people live with OCD. The World Health Organisation has estimated that over 20 percent of the world’s adults suffer from Dementia and Depression due to the increased risk of stressors in old age. Stressors are what trigger mental health illnesses beyond manageable proportions.

What are we to do to support your wife or husband with the likelihood of depression, psychosis, bipolar, and other related illnesses of the mind?

As I have stated, we need to be aware that anyone can be susceptible to mental health illness. Therefore, we should be aware of the lifestyle that could contribute to the high rate of mental health presentation as we grow. Unfortunately, the country’s harsh and hard economic situation, the irresponsibility of our leaders and their oppressive lavish life sponsored by stolen resources are factors driving people crazy gradually. It is a mental health problem for them to steal enormous resources meant for the betterment of others. A case in the study is the Abacha’s loot. What could that be called if not the mental health of the mind?

Read also: Your wife or husband could be a mental health patient

We need to know our stressors and limits. You will need to know when to let go of anything troubling your mental and emotional balance to avert troubles. If there is nothing worth losing your life for, obviously, there is nothing worth going crazy for in life. Self-regulation is one of the potent steps for reducing the effects of mental health stressors on us.

We need to show empathy to others. One of the ways to improve your sense of mental and emotional balance is to be good to others and the community. Do not be judgemental. A recent case was reported in the media where a woman took her life. I know there are people in her locality that could have done more to support her if we all cared for people with signs of mental illness. We must be our wive’s and husbands’ keepers to save lives lost to depression and other suicidal thoughts before the acts are committed.

General mental health awareness in Nigeria is part of the support I will advocate to improve people’s ability to identify and understand their stressors and limits. Our children should be educated on the various symptoms and types of mental health illnesses. In the UK, one in six children aged five to sixteen is likely to have a mental health problem. The earlier we start creating awareness and sympathy, the better for the future of society.

My last suggestion is to use the available mental health facility once a symptom is detected. Most mental health illnesses could be managed effectively if given adequate attention at the formative stage. Though the attention of our government is not on creating more mental health facilities, the available ones should not be stereotyped. People going into the psychiatric hospital in Yaba will be highly discouraged if they watch how our artists and comedians derogatorily use the facility’s name in the movies and clips. I think we need a national re-orientation in a lot of things, including what we make jokes out of. We can make jokes out of a national disaster and dance away the future for a laugh or a click on likes on Facebook. I know we need to laugh to unwind from a hard time. Nonetheless, let’s be serious about things like mental health illness.

We are all suspects, only those whose stressors and triggers have been overused are guilty. As guilty as they might be, we should show them empathy rather than condemn them for being sick in their minds. It could be your wife or husband tomorrow.

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