Don’t say madness, say mental health illness-Emeka Nwolisa

Don’t say madness, say mental health illness-Emeka Nwolisa

Today, I want to shake table well-well. Apologies to RantHQ group on facebook. And this table  that is shaking…I am standing on it gidigbam and nothing do me.  It is  truly time to begin to talk about issues concerning mental health and create increased awareness.

For too long as a people, we have stigmatised both those with mental health challenges and institutions set up to provide care and relief for them.  We commonly use terms like  ‘yaba left’ and ‘Aro’ derogatorily to depict those we believe have mental health challenges. Most people would not want to consult a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist because of the stigmatisation. Not their fault though, ever so often we are  too fast to announce that  ‘dem don kolo or dem don run mental.’

But then, the chicken has come home to roost. Kasala don burst and the Gbege don hammer ceiling and society is aghast. Suicide rates have sky rocketed leaving the realms of whispered conversation to a mainstream one.

Domestic and spousal abuse is on the rise and sadly the humble kitchen knife which had for decades served diligently in the kitchen has now been called to heinous duties in the bedroom and living room. Alarmingly the job specification of the kitchen knife has changed. But then , the knife has no will of its own …it only carries out the instruction of the one holding it.

People are  jumping off bridges and turning rivers into swimming pools of no return, ceiling fans are becoming fulcrums for events that fracture the cervical vertebrae and wives are now cutting up  husband’s in place of beef. For every suicide, for every spousal or intimate partner violence that leads to death…society is to blame. Sad.

Before it got to this stage, many of those individuals cried out for help but society failed them. Someone noticed the depression and kept quiet, someone noticed the unusual aggression and kept quiet, someone noticed the progressive deterioration in personal hygiene and the ebbing self esteem and kept quiet. We stigmatise any and every illness that has to do with mental health. Every mental health related  illness is either demonic or trouble from ‘Village people’ or ‘household enemies’.

Several things are tipping otherwise rational people over the edge. The economy, job losses, unmet expectations, love gone sour…the list is endless but the bottom line is that all these people could have been rescued by a couple of visits to the psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. But then they didn’t because society would call them mad.

Since 1949, the month of May has been celebrated as mental health awareness month with the aim of increasing public awareness on mental health issues.

In 1992,  the 10th of October was designated World Mental Health Day.  Like the mental health week, it seeks to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide.

When people are well educated, those with mental disorders will be appreciated rather than stigmatised. They then would be able to get  family or social support that would enable them get appropriate treatment.

Truth be told , the person who consults a psychiatrist is not MAD but rather SANE enough to seek for help.

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