By Fr. John Damian Adizie
October 10 is World Mental Health Day, a day set aside to create awareness of the ravaging effect of mental ill-health and also highlight the importance mental health care.
Coincidentally, the World Federation for Mental Health celebrates its 25 years anniversary. The theme of this year’s mental Health Day is “Mental Health in the work place.” Africa is among the continents that pays little or no attention to people with mental disorder. We don’t even have enough facilities, such as counseling and re-habilitation centres. The idea of rehab-ilitation and reformation centres where ex-prisoners, ex-prostitutes, ex-cultists and even ex-terrorists could be reformed is alien to us.
Most of those with mental disorder end up in herbal homes, along the streets, under the bridge or even in waste bin. Most of the problems we are facing in our country today are rooted in mental ill-health.
The World Health Organization declared that over seven million Nigerians suffer from depression. Nigeria was even rated among the most depressed countries in Africa. More than four million Nigerians are suffering from anxiety disorder.
The high cost of living, poverty, insecurity, insurgencies, hardship, unemployment, and even the on-going deportation of Nigerians from different parts of the world are enough to trigger mental disorder.
Mental disorder is not just limited to insanity. It has to do with a very stupid, irrational and dangerous behaviour. You often hear people say, “Don’t drive me crazy!” Yet, most people allow themselves to be driven crazy. Frequent irrational or immoral behaviour points to possible mental disorder.
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State described the action of some parents and teachers who were caught in Examination malpractice at the last School Leaving Certificate Examination, as crazy. He asked, “Is this not crazy for the future of your children?”
May I use this medium to commend the governor for his openness and pragmatic approach to reality. His comment on the abandoned road project of Benin-Auchi-Abuja road shows that he is not out to play politics of cover-me-I-cover-you. Indeed, only the truth can set us free!
But your Excellency, I doubt if the parents and teachers are the only crazy people in Nigeria. How do you describe the action of law makers who fight in the Houses of Assembly? That of our Honourable law makers who are jumping through gates and fences before the global view? What of some men of God who impoverish their members through tithes and seed sowing? They are not even ready to touch the lives of orphans, poor widows and vulnerable youths.
How do you describe the action of those who embezzle public funds, those who share allocations that are meant for workers’ salaries, pensioners and other developmental projects? Have you ever considered those who accept bribe before performing their civic duties? What of the action of a policeman who killed a taxi driver just because of N200.
What of reckless drivers, especially those with sirene, who disobey traffic rules? Most of them are even law makers. It seems it is only here in Africa that law makers are free to violate laws and get away with them. How do you describe the action of a married Senator or a lecturer who sleeps with ladies young enough to be his daughters in hotels. Yet some law makers interpret it as ‘private life.’ People like Bill Clinton of America did not get away with his sex scandal.
What can you say about those who dump refuse along the roads? How do you describe those who smoke in work places, under hot weather? What of ladies who dress half naked in a very cold weather? Do you know that some young men are piercing their ears, wearing earrings and even sleeping with their fellow men. Is this not crazy?
Have you ever considered those who bark like dogs in their work places, no single respect for visitors and clients! What of those who falsify their age in order to retain their job or position? How do you describe those who are afraid of retirement even when it is obvious that health-wise they are in-capacitated.
The list is endless. There is urgent need for Mental health care facilities! God inspired us to set up a Mental Rehabilitation Centre, especially for the youths, here at Maryland Egoro Amede, Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria. God has used this centre to restore lives of so many people with mental disorder.
May I use this medium to appeal to the government/Religious leaders and NGOs. Let’s embark on rehabilitation and em-powerment of our youths. This will solve the problem of insecurity, insurgencies and even terrorism.
HAPPY WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY!