By Morenike Taire & Funmi Ajumobi

Dr Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri, popularly referred to as “The Celebrity Shrink”, is a multiple award-winning Neuro-Psychiatrist & Mental Health Advocate with almost 20years of experience. Currently, she is the Medical Director at Pinnacle Medical Services in Lagos. 

Dr Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri, popularly referred to as “The Celebrity Shrink”, is a multiple award-winning Neuro-Psychiatrist & Mental Health Advocate with almost 20years of experience. Currently, she is the Medical Director at Pinnacle Medical Services in Lagos. 

In our society, women seem to suffer from mental health issues more. Why so?

We are uniquely created, natural nurturers, home builders, and home engineers. We give it all and sometimes forget ourselves. When it comes to our mental health, we must be very intentional and deliberate.

Women are twice more depressed as men and the reasons are natural pressures, societal pressure, and societal norms. Our hormones also play a role during the menstrual cramps period, menopause stage, and lots more. But again there is that statement or non-verbal belief that women must be able to do XYZ and those are some of the things that put pressure on us as women.

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When we say women are twice more depressed than men, married women are even worse

 You would expect that marriage should be a protective factor for women, but no. From the research we conducted over and over in the past, women are more vulnerable and at risk of depression most especially married women. The following four factors are triggers:

One is early maternal death. This involves being nurtured by someone else other than your biological mother. You might be trained by your grandmother, your grandfather, and that can change your destiny.

Secondly, if a woman has three children below 14 years. I have three children and you can imagine. Sometimes you find a woman travelling with her children and when asked for their husbands they give excuses for them. Such women are parenting in a different environment and that also causes stress. Going with your husband should not be seen as stress but enjoyment.

Another factor is when a woman is not working at all or she is always within her own environment.  For instance, the Instagram environment is not just about interacting on social media but also being able to interact with people outside- social interaction.

Lastly, this is where we involve the men. Our men play a very significant role in marriage, therefore if your husband is not your friend or comforters when the children grow up and leave, you go into the empty nest syndrome and when that happens, such a woman is doomed. If you and your husband are not friends then you are doomed. Out of these four factors, if a woman has at least two of them, then she is already at risk of having mental health-related issues. All these reasons are why women’s mental health is very key, because they are the natural nurturers. If a woman is depressed l, she would not have the happiness to nurture her children because what she does not have, she cannot give.

So you talked about these four factors, what if along the way something changes?

For example, I have one factor, my children are 14 years below, and one is above 14 years. I have a job and my parents are still alive. One factor I can easily trust is my husband because I know we do not intentionally quarrel, we tend to make sure we settle our differences the same day before going to bed. You are doing yourself a favour when you make sure you and your husband are on good terms in order to avoid the rise of another factor. When having issues with your husband, you are advised to go for therapy in order to normalize the mental health section that can encourage health seeking behavior. When I have challenges with my husband I go to the pastor to pray and counsel me or sometimes visit a professional marriage counselor. All this can be done to enhance the mental health of women in the society.

What of women with traditional, cultural practices and beliefs?

Traditional and cultural practices are just beliefs and are limiting beliefs. At this point in our lives we have to rise above those traditional beliefs and cultural beliefs. It is a generational thing but we can end it. Talking about roundtable discussion, let women come together to talk about it also. When China decided that they wanted one child per family; with time, such decisions were changed. Cultural beliefs limit women a lot in how people view women, people’s perception towards women, among others. Nowadays, a successful woman is scared that she doesn’t want to be more successful than her husband because if she is, she is scared that the marriage might crash. But if we all come together and talk about it, that while we are empowering our women and the girls, let us not leave the men behind; because if we empower our girls for useless boys the circle becomes a vicious one. So basically everybody matters in this discussion

Apart from depression, which other mental health issues are more prevalent in women?

We have anxiety and substance abuse. Because of our cultural beliefs and practices, women hardly go out and drink alone so they drink indoors, and when a woman drinks alone, it is the worst form of drinking.

For the fact that it is very easy for women to get into addiction in the course of that, it is important that an enabling environment be created.  Women are peculiar; they have postpartum depression as well as postpartum psychosis, which is a pattern in post pregnancy. Some of the common challenges women have also are extreme. 

How can mothers help their children with mental health issues, especially teenagers; and what role does the teacher play? How can mothers help to control the use of social media by children?

First and foremost, the role of a mother is two times when it comes to the home. She is to ensure the environment is not toxic but very much conductive for the children. She should ensure she creates a relationship that is very conducive and not a hostile relationship. Women, very importantly, should ensure that their children get the attention needed, because as nurturer builders we need to be able to understand and communicate with the children, listen to them and not be judgmental or crucifying of their opinion.

Secondly, teachers are our helping hands, looking at the fact that we don’t have enough psychologists but we have teachers in school. Teachers can be trained in mental health aid to manage themselves and also to pick the early signs in children. When teachers are trained it signifies a lot in the development of a child, knowing that children spend time learning a lot in school. Teachers should be trained to look out for the children and their behavior.

Thirdly, social media can’t be changed but instead increases so the parents have the responsibility, mostly the mother, to know the activities of the children in the media. Also, being able to follow up on their social media handles too. Being a 21st century parent is not an easy task. A woman should be able to create an environment that is not hostile to her children. More and more applications will be developed but the parents should try to ensure that their children use social media to their benefit and not the negative way. Ensure not to create negative comments on the social media handle page but instead, create a friendly environment for them to communicate. Because we are their first ‘google’, we have the responsibility of guiding them, encouraging them to do the right things and creating an environment where they can easily talk to you even if it’s advice, they can easily seek that from you.

What of young people who are already addicted to drug use?

Drug abuse education should be added to the school syllabus. Teachers have the role of creating such discussions in school to educate the young children, because most times these children don’t see such a big deal; but if the teacher teaches about it regularly, children will be entrenched in the danger of these abuses. When teachers are trained in mental health, about knowing how to take care of themselves as well as the children, it will help.

 Although, even if we do all these things, those that would still be drugs addicts will still be around; but when we find those engaging in drug abuses, getting to know them on time will drive more early interventions and of course it will lead to better outcomes because prevention is better than cure.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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