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Mr. Eze: How are you feeling? Adaora: Not sure I’m fine but I don’t have a word for it. Mr. Eze: Can you try to explain? Adaora: Suddenly things I used to love doing have become boring, I get angry over little things/literally nothing and as well do not feel hungry. During the day, I pray for night to come and night comes, I find it difficult to sleep until maybe early hour in the morning (if sleeping grace decides to visit me). Thinking multiple things at a time, scared of the unknown and most times I’m just lost in thought. . . . What is Mental Health? According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities to cope with the normal stresses of life work productively and fruitfully, and as well make positive contributions to his or her community”. also explains mental health to include our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. A break-down in this state of well-being affects how we think, feel, and even act. Prevalence of Mental Illness Symptoms of mental illness vary widely among individuals. Some of these include feelings of helplessness, getting angry easily, low self-esteem, fear, withdrawal from family and friends, loss of interest in favorite activities, difficulties in breathing, thoughts of self-harm/suicide, anxiety and so on. Apparently, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) experience more mental distress than people without. Symptoms of mental health issues are often overlooked, underdiagnosed and left untreated as a result of poor understanding and awareness. Indeed, for PWDs such symptoms are often being mistakenly treated as normal. Women also are more prone to have mental health disorder as a result of gender based violence, sexual violence, gender inequality, discrimination, stigmatization, and cultural bias. All these make up situations where most women are not safe to talk about their mental health challenges which in turn lead to serious depression and other negative conditions. Mental health issues among adults are another cause for alarm. Loss of income or unemployment, peer pressure, insecurity etc. have all given rise to other conditions as anxiety, distress, substance abuse, which conjoin to form poor mental health outcomes. Recommendations

  1. Education: There is a need to educate people on what mental health is, its symptoms, prevention and how to get help when confronted with the challenges.

  2. Create Awareness: Talk about and encourage mental health. This should be done by community leaders, parents, caregivers, workplace, Faith leaders, friends and family, educators, employee, and so on.

  3. Mental Health Policies and Bill: This should be prioritized and be encouraged in the workplace, and the society at large.

  4. Get Help: If stress gets in your way, call a healthcare provider. There are some resources that can as well help you connect with a skilled, trained and counselor in your area. It’s ok not to be ok, but what is not ok is not knowing when to take a break to attend to your mental health. Set boundaries when you need to, that doesn’t make you a bad person, you are only protecting your mental health.

Mental health is a human right. Every human deserves access to the care they need to reach their full potential. Mental health is a priority! . . . Mr. Eze: Adaora, it’s good you spoke up, you need to take special and urgent care of your state of mind. Here is the sum of N2 million to take care of some personal needs. You also have a paid trip to Paris for a 4-week vacation. Do take care of yourself. {Curtain falls} WRITTEN BY OMOTOLA E. OMOTAYO

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