What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candour, more unashamed conversation – Glenn Close, American Actress
Recently, there has been a northward trend of successful and failed suicide cases in Nigeria. While many believe that the reason behind suicide attempts is frustration occasioned by poverty, it goes beyond that as there is more to this than meets the eye. If that assertion holds true, then we should have only poor people on record lists of those who died by suicide or had attempted suicide. Both the rich and poor exhibit suicidal tendencies. It is not only money that provides happiness; it is failure to achieve other sources of happiness that bring about depression which in turn triggers suicidal thoughts.
Life, most times, is not always straight in its dealings with some people. In its unpredictability, life does not come clear in a White-Black or Yes-No pattern to some; it may play out in a complicated manner to others and to a few others, it may be smooth and easy as they sail. What appears to be one person’s desired expectation may be what someone else does not regard valuable. This could be said of our needs in every aspect of our life as human beings.
One’s mental health is touched when his thoughts and actions are always against normalcy. Mental health is not just the absence of disease, infirmity, disorder, or disability, it is a state of complete well-being physically and mentally. The definition, by implication, means mental health refers to cognitive and emotional wellbeing.
Those who speak out and share thoughts with people around them are most likely not to fall into depression. They are usually mentally healthy. However, introverts by nature would keep to themselves trying to handle their life issues alone which over time gets them depressed. People also fear sharing their life challenges with others because they get mocked for their problems at a later time in life. Man can also be wicked to his fellow man as problems shared with them form the basis for discussions and jest.
How we think, feel, interact and act are all largely affected by the current state of our mental health. It, therefore, means that our mental health is an integral part of our health and completely encompasses our whole life and living.
The ability of an individual to cope with stress and contain his emotions and other challenges of life reveals how healthy he is mentally. A mental aberration occurs when our actions, thinking, and feelings are out of control or no longer ordered.
The other day, a Lagos Accountant, Folake Abiola, with a telecoms company, committed suicide as she was said to have been suffering from depression for years before she eventually ended her life.
Again, sometime in April 2022 this year, a 65-year-old man was prevented from jumping into the Lagos lagoon by the police. The day happened to be the sexagenarian’s birthday as he attempted suicide out of frustration and personal challenges.
The same was also reported in February this year when operatives of the Rapid Response Squad rescued a woman from committing suicide as she was stopped from jumping into the Lagos lagoon.
It will also be recalled that in December 2021, a Diploma degree holder, Lekan Odunare, was filmed jumping into the depths. His wife later claimed that the suicide action was driven by depression and frustration.
Just a few days ago, patrol officers of the Lekki Concession Company saved a young man from taking his own life on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge. Cases of failed and successful suicide attempts abound and this trend is worrisome and disturbing.
There is no good health without good mental health. Biological, socioeconomic, and environmental factors are major determinants of one’s mental health. If attention is not paid to these factors, then one is failing in mental health care. We must not leave the responsibility of taking care of our mental health to chance. Proper awareness of mental health would help in the care and treatment of persons who are mentally unhealthy.
A famous quote reads, “Mental health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” This lays credence to the fact that our current state of mental health is a reflection of how we are faring in our life’s journey. You’re travelling fine if you’re healthy mentally. Mental illness is a mental disorder or condition that affects emotions, mood, thinking and behaviour. It does not mean outright insanity or being deranged.
In the words of John Green, American author of the best-selling novel, The Fault in Our Stars. He quips, “There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.” Override your thoughts and feelings with the unlimited possibilities hope avails. Remember, you are not your thoughts. So be kind to yourself by strongly keeping hope alive when thoughts of hopelessness crawl in. It is in hoping and speaking out that help comes. Ensure you speak with someone when you feel depressed; be heard, be understood and then, seek help from counsellors and mental health therapists.
- Kayode Ojewale of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA writes via [email protected]<
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