Most mental health disorder is a lifelong ailment that has to be religiously managed for the patient(s) to live their best lives. We always write a thing like this to raise awareness not just to families of persons with mental disorder but to the general public who in one way or the other can assist a mentally challenged individual.
When insight is lacking in a person with a mental disorder, the chances of a relapse is higher. Even though some mental health challenges are well known to the patients, the management process which therapies avail, may not be appreciated without insight.
Normally, when we stress insight here, we mean to say that most people with mental health challenge do not know or realize that they are sick. Call it depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, substance abuse induced psychosis, Alzheimer or any mental disease, the knowledge of what patients pass through is not clearly laid out in their understanding.
This explains the reason why we have mentally challenged individuals walking up and down in all the markets, streets and roads in Nigeria. They are called mad people or lunatics.
Unfortunately, most of them have been to a mental clinic, received proper diagnosis, commenced treatment but for the absence of insight, they suffered a relapse. Insight is not just needed for the mentally challenged; the parents, family members and care givers need it to properly cater for the demands of the mentally challenged.
As a social worker at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Chime Avenue, New Heaven, Enugu, experience has taught me that empathy and compassion is not enough in assisting the mentally challenged. I worked mostly with patients who had schizophrenia disorder.
In assisting patients get the desired medical attention they need; I discovered that governments in Africa are not really doing much for the citizens. It was the First Lady of Anambra State in 2018, Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano, with her pet project; ‘CAFÉ’ – Caring Family Empowerment Initiative, who tried her best to help the mentally challenged in Awka and its environs. The then medical director of Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Nawfia, Dr. A.R Achugbu, attested to the success of the venture and why the government should do more to reduce the number of mentally challenged on the streets.
Why? A little aid and medical assistance will help them gain insight and reunite with their families.
Let us look at the analysis with a patient who is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Even though schizophrenia has types and subtypes, we would look at it in general not considering individuals or any perculiar situation because mental disorder varies on how it affects individuals. Schizophrenia is a complex, serious and chronic mental health illness.
It affects only a little percentage of the Nigerian population. Approximately, half of all the people with schizophrenia are also having other mental health disorders. Treatment with medications, behavioural therapy, and social support are important in helping to manage symptoms of schizophrenia. There are several factors that lead to the cause of the illness but it usually affects teens who are entering their early adulthood. Most mental health disorder cannot be prevented and there is no permanent cure to the condition once it has occurred.
However, it is possible for a person with schizophrenia to lead a happy and fulfilling life because symptoms can be made less severe with the help of professional treatment. A return of symptoms is highly likely during recovery, but this is where the importance of sticking to the treatment plan comes in.
Managing a mental disorder is an ongoing process, and it may take time to find the right combination of strategies and treatments that work for you
Straying from the treatment plan may cause relapse and may lead to hospitalization. Sometimes, reading and listening could be very difficult for such patients. We do not want to talk about the disorganized behaviour but the disorganized thinking too which can lead to forgetting and remembering things.
Sadly, most mentally challenged persons frown at stigmatization even by those who do not know them. Why? They lack insight which helps them display an orderly, appropriate behaviour at every circumstance. Not knowing that they are awkward, they wonder the reason other people should avoid them.
The aim of a management plan is for patients to fit in properly in the community where he or she belongs. On the other hand, every reasonable adult should be concerned about their mental wellbeing. Women are more open for consultation but most men take recourse in alcohol. Symptoms may re-emerge from time to time, but sticking with professional treatment can help you tremendously. Schizophrenia cannot be cured but all types of schizophrenia can be treated.
This means you can manage your symptoms so they do not affect your life. The positive symptoms of schizophrenia like delusions, hallucinations, hesitant response etc. are what make the import of insight a necessity.
Not just for schizophrenia, early detection and treatment mean a better prognosis, particularly when a person is living with disorganized thoughts, behaviours and emotions.
Lack of insight push many people to withdraw or develop a coping mechanism in the management of a mental challenge without a professional guidance. Insight helps individuals understand the need for treatment and the importance of following through with prescribed interventions. With insight, individuals are more likely to engage in therapy, take medication as prescribed, and actively participate in their recovery process.
Recognizing that something is wrong and seeking professional help is often the first step towards effective management of mental health challenges. Insight enables individuals to acknowledge their symptoms, understand that they may indicate a mental health disorder, and reach out for appropriate support and treatment. Insight helps individuals recognize the impact of their lifestyle choices on their mental well-being.
They can identify behaviours that may exacerbate their symptoms, such as poor sleep habits, substance abuse, or unhealthy relationships. With this understanding, they can make informed decisions to prioritize self-care and adopt healthier habits. Developing insight into one’s mental health challenges can foster personal growth and self-awareness. It allows individuals to gain a deeper understanding of their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. This self-awareness facilitates the identification of maladaptive patterns and provides an opportunity for personal development and positive change.
Insight enables individuals to articulate their experiences, symptoms, and concerns more accurately when communicating with mental health professionals. Insight will help you to educate yourself, seek professional help (such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist), join support groups, keep a journal, practice self-reflection, involve loved ones, and follow treatment plans.
Building a strong support system may not be easy where in our world it is always; ‘all man for himself’. Isolation and inactivity can exacerbate mental health symptoms.
Remember, managing a mental disorder is an ongoing process, and it may take time to find the right combination of strategies and treatments that work for you.
Regularly communicate with your healthcare provider, be patient with yourself, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support when needed. Remember, gaining insight into schizophrenia is a gradual process, and it may vary from person to person. Be patient with yourself, seek professional support, and practice self-care to better understand and manage your condition.