October 10, 2022

Mental Health Day: Psychiatrists call for urgent action to curb challenges

mental health

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – Economic stress, rapid unplanned urbanization, protracted conflicts and violence, use of illicit substances, extreme weather conditions and climate change have been identified as some of the factors fueling mental health challenges among citizens.

This is even as a call has been made for issues of mental health and mental well-being to be given priority because everybody irrespective of position in the society is susceptible to suffering mental health challenges in one’s lifetime.

Experts gave these views during the celebration of this year’s World Mental Health Day as organized by the Department of Psychiatry, Jos University Teaching Hospital, JUTH with the theme: “Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.”  

In his keynote address, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr. Duwap Makput noted that health is encompassing and mental health must be prioritized because “mental health captures the health of human beings in totality.”

He highlighted the issues causing mental health challenges saying, “For a day to be set aside for mental health, it shows the burden and the challenges of mental health illnesses people go through. Economic hardship can trigger mental health issues.

“The more stress you go through, the more your mental health is being challenged. Rapid unplanned urbanization creates an environment that is not conducive to healthy living and makes people go through immeasurable emotional stress, making people live mentally unhealthy lives.

“The demand for illicit substances is high, protracted conflicts/violence encourage mental health challenges through physical and emotional trauma, these directly affect mental well-being because the more anxious you are, the more likely you will fall into mental health challenges.

“When an individual is going through a hard time, managing a lot of stress, that stress tends to make the individual more vulnerable to suffer some mental health challenges so how do we reduce human stress? Look at poverty, look at employment opportunities, look at empowering the people.”

He cautioned against stigmatization and discrimination against victims/survivors of mental health challenges saying such would prevent people from being open in discussing mental health challenges and the society would be the worse off for it.  

Earlier, the Acting Head of the Department of Psychiatry, JUTH, Dr Nwoga Charles who is also a Consultant Psychiatrist stated, the theme of this year’s celebration is apt, as it brings to the fore how important it is “to take care of our mental health.”

He added, “All of us are prone to having mental health illnesses because anyone that has a brain can have mental health at any time, except if you don’t have a brain, then you are not prone to mental health, that makes it very important.

“A lot of us are passing through many mental health challenges, particularly some of us that are ASUU members, we know what we are passing through and that is affecting our mental health, as we mark this day, let us pray so that this quagmire can come to an end so that we can restore our mental health and mental wellbeing.”

However, the Acting Chief Medical Director, of JUTH, Dr. Pokop Bupwatda through the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee, CMAC, Dr. Njem Maina stressed that all hands must be on deck to address the menace as according to him, “Mental health is a big challenge, we see it with us, we see it among our staff, we see it in families, we see it on the streets so we must all rise and join hands together to ensure that we prevent this pandemic from happening.”