BusinessDay

NIGERIA@62 – By now, free access to mental health services should be in place

Any country’s most valuable resource is its human resource. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that any country that wants to be prosperous and productive will spend money on its human resources. They’ll see to it that they have the best resources available to them in order to increase their chances of success. Investing in residents’ health and fitness will be the most fundamental of these expenditures.

Health, according to the World Health Organisation, is “a state of the whole physical, mental, and social wellbeing.” As a result, health can be thought of as a stool supported by the physical, mental, and social components. Are any of these three pillars of health in Nigeria receiving any attention?

The emotional aspect of our personal health is one among others that have played vital roles in our overall health. The unfortunate thing is that just a few Nigerians pay attention to this aspect of their personal health, as the rate of people suffering from mental health challenges are on the increase every day in Nigeria, but can we really blame the people? Not entirely.

Everyone, both the privileged and the less privileged ones, should be able to have access to quality mental health checks which is not available in Nigeria. Though the privileged ones understand the importance of seeking mental health care, and few of them take a conscious effort to attend to it, there are many who cannot afford the cost of care and suffer severely with mental health issues even though, the Nigerian government is capable of making provision for such services. It is however sad to know that Nigeria has failed in terms of the attention she pays to the overall health need of its people, especially their emotional health needs.

At 62, Nigeria is expected to be a better haven for its people, but many people leave the country every day, (the #japa syndrome) due to the unbearable stress the economy is imposing on them. Nigeria is known as the giant of Africa due to the numerous natural resources which can serve its people conveniently, unfortunately, miss-management on the part of government has led to a high rate of poverty among Nigerians, thereby reducing the country to the level it is today, as many cases of ritual killing and various crimes have been the order of the day. This is fast contributing to a high rate of anxiety and other mental health challenges being experienced today in the country.

Findings have shown that there is a prevailing presence of inadequate access to basic amenities as a result of the fragile healthcare system in the country, which is contributing to the level of stress Nigerians experience daily. If the Nigerian government continue to fail in putting necessary measures to better the health system, the consequences will have a negative impact on the citizenry.

Read also: NIGERIA at 62, so far so good?

It is important to know that the Nigerian government needs to do more in providing basic amenities for Nigerians. The lack of these has caused a surge in mental health challenges. These should be considered especially as we are celebrating 62 years of independence.

The following should be given immediate attention

· Provision of free access to mental health services

· compelling need for active participation in mental health promotion activities

· Putting more effort into assessing the country’s capacity to detect, prevent and respond to mental health risks

· Pass the mental health bill into an act.

As a Physician in the system, while we are still waiting for the government to do the needful, I will encourage us to make a conscious effort to attend to our personal health by practising the following:

1. Have a sleep routine, at least sleep for 7-9hours daily

2. Learn to say more NO so as to give room to your true Yeses

3. Connect with a healthy support system

4. Be kind to yourself and others

5. 97% of what you drink should be water, at least 2-3L/day

6. Commit to learning a skill that will help you add an extra source of income.

7. Eat a healthy and balanced diet

8. Reduce your screen time to less than 4hrs/per day

9, Limit your exposure to news and social media

10. Be close to nature and exercise at least 10,000 steps/day

11. Get at least 20 minutes of direct sunlight daily

12. Prioritize what’s important over pleasure

13. For every 55mins, have a 5min break or 5 mins break for every 25mins

14. Ask for help when and if you need it

15. Know your stressors and learn to manage them

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