August 3, 2019

Do you know Bipola Disorder — asks Chiamaka Okwuma

Do you know  Bipola Disorder  — asks Chiamaka Okwuma


By Chris Onuoha

Against the backdrop of stories of suicide in Nigeria, caused by economic depression, poor school results, emotional heartbreaks and others, a book titled “Neglected” written to create awareness and educate families about an unsuspecting symptom called ‘Bipolar Disorder’ has launched.


Lucy Chiamaka Okwuma, a medical expert by profession and a debutant in the creative writer’s industry  has written a psychological thriller that is meant to address the issue of mental illness, lack of awareness and the misconception surrounding the scourge.

Unveiling the book in Lagos recently, Chiamaka Okwuma reiterates that most families in Nigeria usually take mental disorder for granted.   “The book ‘Neglected’ talks about among other things, the state of mental health disorders experienced in several parts of the world and in Nigeria and how the disease is highly ignored,” she said.

According to her, “In 2006, World Health Organisation WHO Aims’ report on mental health system in Nigeria made a telling revelation about a considerable neglect of mental health issues among families in the country.”

Explaining the book she said, “The book revolves around the struggles of a young girl with Bipolar Disorder; a mental illness not uncommon but completely foreign to her and her family. It starts to manifest as attention seeking, hate and resentment towards her parents, but underneath the surface, all her actions are a cry for help as her atypical parents, crazy in love even after several years of marriage, fail to comprehend.”

Suicide: Nigerians decry ban on sale of Sniper(Opens in a new browser tab)

Continuing,  “The book trails the struggles of this young girl who seems to be leading a typical teenage fashion of rebellion and rudeness. She however, is not being this way for the heck of it but for the fact that she has Bipolar disorder, which causes her mood swings, from elation to severe depression where she would constantly contemplate suicide.”

Chiamaka disclosed that she chose to center her story on a wealthy family, saying that despite their class in the society and exposure in life, they too, are unconscious of this mental health disorder and almost ignorant about it.

Citing an impediment very inherent from the government, Chiamaka noted, “There is an existing mental health policy document in Nigeria, formulated in 1991, its components include Advocacy, promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. However, upon research there’s no formal conduction to assess how much of this policy has been implemented. Also upon research, it has been discovered that no desk exists in the ministries at any level for mental health issues and only 4percent of government expenditure on health is earmarked for mental health.

“In this country there is a severe lack of awareness to mental health disorders. Society at large knows little to nothing about it. It would be right to actually have policies in place advocating mental health to be added to school curriculums as a health education,” Chiamaka reiterated.

She however, said that seeking medical attention must be a priority in mental health disorders. According to her, a society like ours where religion is the ultimate core, people would rather seek God through Pastors for counseling than going to a medical expert for proper and adequate health care.

“My book came to me as an educative medium to bring awareness to mental health disorders. I chose to emphasize on how mental disorders could be missed, even by the educated in Nigeria due to certain misconceptions such as the main family in my book believing their daughter’s situation was as a result of diabolical ways of the people in their hometown involving Juju and charms.

Art is a great solution to mental health issues – Dr. Okoye(Opens in a new browser tab)

“They basically believed that their daughter was under a curse, inherited from her maternal grandmother, who also suffered from depression. Unfortunately her condition was never managed or treated and she eventually committed suicide,” she added.

Meanwhile, Chiamaka whose first published work is ‘Neglected’ said she hopes to look back and be proud of making a contribution to the literary world especially with materials that will be addressing core social issues in the society.