Is health complete without mental health? At the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, I developed the urge and enthusiasm on mental health, this pushed me to research the topic. As of then, I had an idea of what it entails and the various terms that express mental health. I was always talking about it at any opportunity I get. One thing that summarizes everything I have learnt and still learning on Mental health is that it is as important as our physical health. Although, it is not acknowledged enough and there are a lot of myths about it. This article will debunk the common myths on mental health.
Myth: mental health disorders are not common.
Fact: In 2019, sources reported that about 20 to 30% of Nigerians suffer from mental disorders. In 2019, Al Jazeera also reported that one in four Nigerians, experience mental health disorders. Although there is limited research on mental health in Nigeria, only a few persons visit the clinic due to mental health problems and only a few talk about mental health problems they experience. The prevalent mental health problems in Nigeria are depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Usually many people quietly bear the symptoms of mental health problems.
Myth: Children and adolescents do not experience mental health problems.
Fact: according to WHO in 2020, depression is one of the leading cause of illnesses and disability among adolescents globally. At least five children visit a mental health clinic every day. Asides from depression, anxiety, substance abuse and conduct disorders in children, developmental disorders are also mental health problems that some children experience. Most mental health problems peak at age 14, while developmental disorders like autism are diagnosed as early as age 3. The consequences of not addressing child adolescent mental health conditions can extend to adulthood and this will limit their chances of having fulfilling lives as adults.
Myth: Mental health problems are signs of weakness.
Fact: People with mental health problems do not choose to have the problems. Mental health problems are not wilful behaviours that one decides to have or experience.
Myth: Having a mental illness means you are “crazy”
Fact: Having a mental illness means you have an illness with challenging symptoms; it means you are susceptible to illness. The symptoms a person with mental illness experience makes them vulnerable.
Myth: Therapy is a waste of time; you can use drugs instead.
Fact: Most times the treatment for mental health disorders varies depending on the individual. The treatment could include medication, therapy or both. In most cases during the healing process, the individual needs a support system for full recovery
At the moment, there is limited mental health awareness in Nigeria; remember it is Mental Health, Whole Health. It is not just about the stigma that comes with mental health problems but it is an essential component of health according to WHO definition of health.
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