Mental health is real in Nigeria and we need to talk about it
Do you have a friend or relative with a mental condition? Honestly, you probably don’t know. You may know someone whom you feel like the person is a little odd, but there’s been no concrete diagnosis to pinpoint the condition.
Mental illness is more common in Nigeria than we know. This is because we have a lot of unreported and undiagnosed cases. Being a very religious country, sometimes we are quick to blame the cause of certain behavioral abnormality on spirits or witches. Sometimes we taunt people with these conditions, label some of them mad, or attention seekers.
I have a friend who always complained about her father. As she told me things about him, all I could say to myself is, “this isn’t normal behavior”. So I did a little research and spoke to a colleague who is a psychiatrist. He told me that her father was displaying classical “narcissistic personality disorder”. The entire family had suffered under this man for years. They prayed that he would change or improve. But how can they find a solution when the problem has not been discussed. This is just a case of someone dealing with a person with a personality disorder. What about people with relatives with schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder. Society will condemn them to be weird, and people will just distance themselves from these individuals.
We are not properly educated about mental illness, to know when to seek help and even how to care for people who have these conditions. The people with these conditions suffer in the end.
We need to talk about it more and make it accessible for people to get the help they need.