" />
Published On: Mon, May 8th, 2017

Economic siege: Mental illness on the rise among Nigerians

 

  • Worsening economic conditions push more people to the brink

 

By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
More Nigerians are daily succumbing to the scourge of mental disorder, an investigation by Business Hallmark has revealed. The report revealed alarming increases in cases of documented suicides, depression, alcohol dependency and violent crimes, among other mentally related infirmities. Mental disorder, also called mental illness, psychological disorder, or psychiatric disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is mental or behavioural pattern that causes either suffering or poor ability to function in ordinary life.

 

APA said that causes of mental disorder are often unclear but common causes include drug abuse, depression, dementia, as well as stigma and discrimination. While the increase is reported cases in the country are alarming, findings further show that the scourge is largely understated as most Nigerians shun health institutions when they or their relatives show signs of mental illness. They rather approach trado-medical and religious centres to seek deliverance in order to avoid the stigma associated with visiting psychiatric hospitals, BH learnt.

 

The descent into depression by many Nigerians, hitherto ranked among the happiest people on earth, has come as a shock to many. In 2003, the World Values Survey ranked Nigerians among the happiest people in the world in a report. In March 2017, a report released by the United Nations (UN) ranked Nigerians the sixth happiest people in Africa and 95th in the world. This was in spite of the glaring challenges confronting them.

 

However, these assertions are now being put to test by rising cases of suicide in the country. In the last six months, several cases of suicide related deaths have been recorded. On Sunday, March 19, 2017, a 35-year-old medical doctor, Allwell Orji, jumped into the Lagos Lagoon on the Third Mainland Bridge and died. On the 18th of March, a 500-level Urban and Regional Planning undergraduate of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho, Adesoji Adediran, hanged himself inside his hostel room.

On March 24, 2017, the police in Lagos rescued a woman, Taiwo Titilayo Momoh, who attempted to jump into the lagoon at the Third Mainland bridge.

 

Momoh was in a taxi heading towards Oworonshoki on Third Mainland Bridge when she told the taxi driver to stop on the bridge. She confessed that her problem started sometimes in 2015, when a Bureau De Change dealer carted away her N18.7 million she wanted to change to pay her foreign creditors. She has been charged to court. Fishermen on the same day rescued another, Mrs. Abigail Ogunyinka, while attempting to jump from the Ebute-Ero end of the Lagos lagoon. Ogunyinka, a food vendor, was said to have jumped already but was rescued by nearby fishermen.

 

In January this year, a 19-year-old student of Babcock University in Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, Verishima Unokyur, committed suicide in his parents’ home in Mafoluku area of Oshodi, Lagos. On March 3rd, a 100 level female Law student of the University of Ibadan died after jumping from the first floor of the Queens Hall after displaying signs of restlessness.

 

In August last year, a manager with a commercial bank, Olisa Nwokobi, shot himself in Lagos. It was revealed that the 44-year-old bank manager and graduate of Abia State University, Uturu, killed himself because he was under pressure from his bank over loan repayment. Several other unreported and undocumented deaths through suicide have taken place. BH findings show that the scourge is largely induced by the current economic recession in the country.

 

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its monthly reports, many Nigerians have lost their jobs, while more companies are still downsizing to reduce production cost.

It also confirmed that prices of commodities have doubled or tripled in some instances as the purchasing power of citizens continues to diminish with many unable to meet financial obligations.

 

This development, according to medical experts has contributed immensely to the rise in mental disorders. The World Health Organisation (WHO) in a report “The World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems 2016” (WHOAIMS2016) obtained by BH, confirmed that economic crisis produce secondary mental health effects that may increase suicide and alcohol death rates.

READ  Storm over in PDP, Fresh cancels Monday’s inauguration

 

According to the report, “Mental health is not merely the absence of mental symptoms or disorders, but also a resource supporting overall well-being and productivity”.

While Nigeria does not have a standardized data on mental illness, the average number of people living with psychiatric disorders is 42 million, according to the figures made available to BH by several mental health experts.

 

According to the Medical Director of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital (FNH),Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Rahman Lawal, 21 million Nigerians are currently living with psychiatric disorders. Lawal said that about 12.5 per cent of Nigerians have one form of psychiatric disorder or another, which is about 21.2 million Nigerians.

 

“With the population of persons in Nigeria who needs psychiatric attention, it is worrisome that we have only few neuropsychiatric hospitals and trained psychiatrists in the country making it difficult to meet the medical needs of the people.

“This is why we need more hands; more psychiatrists, more health workers and more health facilities, so that we will be able to cope with treatment and management of psychiatric issues in Nigeria.

“There are lots of myths and misconceptions surrounding psychiatric illness in Nigeria. There are people who refuse to visit the hospital or bring their sick ones for treatment, because they believe psychiatric illness is a spiritual issue. Hence, they would prefer to take such patients to spiritual healing homes or faith organisations in order to get cure through spiritual means. Majority only take neuropsychiatric hospitals as their last resort. And you know when cases are not presented on time, they are often more difficult to treat. Some even resulted in suicide cases”, he said.

 

But the figure released by the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Babatunde Ipaye, is more alarming. According to Ipaye, more than 60 million Nigerians have various degrees of mental disorder. He further revealed that 80 percent of people move from one place to another with one mental disorder without knowing or seeking help.

He listed marital pressure, educational and economic pressure, expectations and disappointments as issues that could trigger minor mood disorder and finally leads to extreme mental illness.

“Between 20 and 25 percent live with a full blown mental disorder in Nigeria. That means one out of every five Nigerian has an extreme mental disorder. Mental challenges go from simple minor mood disorder to extreme cases of mental accreditation”, Ipaye said.

He urged Nigerians to establish community mental homes to managed mental disorder at the grassroots level while the federal government would prioritise primary healthcare intervention for minor mood disorder.

 

Consultant Psychiatrist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Raphael E. Ogbolu, said that committing suicide starts from having the thoughts or ideas about killing oneself, followed by coming up with a plan on how to do it and then finally attempting it.

The psychiatrist, who is also the Coordinator of the Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative and Staff Emotional Care Services (SURPIN/SECS), disclosed that in Nigeria, 0.37 per cent and 12 per cent of adult military populations and adolescent populations, respectively, have attempted to kill themselves.

 

“It has also been reported that during their lifetime, about 3.0 per cent of Nigerians would have thoughts of ending their lives, 1.0 per cent would plan on how to kill themselves and just under 1.0 per cent end up attempting to kill themselves. These facts should make it clear to us that suicide occurs in our society,” Ogbolu added.

 

A medical consultant at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr Olumuyiwa Odunsote, blamed the surge in suicide cases on social background.

“In Africa, and especially in Nigeria, mental illness is when the person has gone out of control, which is what is seen as madness.

“But, internationally, somebody who is still under control can be diagnosed with some level of mental disorder. This is true because a lot of people are depressed, a lot of people undergo severe stress and are highly frustrated in the country. Yet, unless you are a trained eye, you won’t see it until it is too late”, he said.

READ  ALSCON: Nigeria, Russia sign Share Purchase agreement

 

A psychiatrist with University of Ibadan, Professor Oye Guruje, advised that government should give priority attention to the management of mental disorder because its burden outweighed that of HIV.

“Mental illness is one of the major contributors to disease burden globally; it is the sixth largest burden worldwide and this is much more burdensome than HIV.

“In Nigeria, one out of seven persons will have serious mental illnesses, while one in four persons will have some form of mental disorder; and this is a conservative estimate,” he said.

Guruje said that mental illnesses could be treated with the right care, noting, “Every mental disorder has some form of treatment; but whether the person will fully recover depends on the type of illness.

“For example, dementia has no effective treatment yet, while there are effective treatments for depression, including non-medication like psychological treatment.”

He added that while there were no specific causes of some mental illnesses, some might be hereditary, while some could be due to stress or lifestyle.

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) however blamed the surge in deaths by suicide on the neglect often suffered by those suffering mental illness.

NMA’s President, Mike Ogirima, while disclosing that 4.2 percent of the Nigerian population suffer depression, lamented that the country has no mental health policy to address challenges faced by mentally depressed Nigerians.

“The medical professionals are worried that Nigeria does not have a workable mental policy. A national strategy to address mental health problems in Nigeria by government’s at all levels is needed, with emphasis on prevention”, he said, adding that recent incident in ‎Lagos must draw people’s attention to the fact that there are many other, who commit suicide and die unnoticed.

“The NMA, as part of its corporate responsibility to the mental health community and the society at large, the Nigerian Medical Association will work closely with the National Assembly to pass a comprehensive bill on Medical Health in Nigeria,” he said.

 

In his own contribution, the Head of Department of Psychology, Lagos State University, Ojo, Dr.  Kayode Taiwo, painted a gloomier picture, warning that Nigerians should expect more deaths from suicide.

“The present political and economic situation in the country is affecting the psychological resilience of people. The societal expectations, personal expectations are important landmark in the ways individuals see themselves. When they are unable to meet this standard, they become what we referred as unfulfilled expectations, which affect their emotions, their cognition, that is, the way they think. These also affect their self-worth; self esteem. And when these things are significantly affected, they lead to depression and depression can lead to suicide.

“These are very good indicators to government that, governance is not being felt by the ordinary man. Suicide will definitely be on the increase, since the economic policy of the government is not something that would bring the desired result soonest, except of course, if government does something extraordinarily and very drastically”, he argued.

On why people commit suicide, which is anathema to the African society, the university don said, “it is not as if suicide is strange to the African society, the population has multiplied, and worldwide there is economic downturn, which is affecting every nation. Unfortunately, in Nigeria we don’t have a social net. In those days, people used to look for one another, the family ties were very strong; communal bond was strong.

“All these are psychological issues, but they have broken down significantly. Meanwhile, the government of today would tell you that it is because of past government. The truth of the matter is that the economic situation is affecting the national psyche; it is not lifting people up psychologically.”

 

 

 

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Most Shared

Recent posts

  • FG grants PPAs of 14 solar projects another 6 months extension

    For the second time since 2016, the Federal Government  has extended by another six months, the deadline for the execution of the power purchase agreements (PPAs) it signed with investors for 14 utility solar power projects to be built in some states of the country. According to OGN reports it was reportedly rolled over after […]

  • Dangote Sugar targets 25% sales volumes in 2018

    The acting Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Abdullahi Sule, believes the company’s  sales volumes could rise as much as 25 percent in 2018 after last year’s downturn. Nigeria’s economy, which contracted in 2016, is recovering after the government relaxed some currency controls implemented after the price of oil, its main export, crashed in […]

  • Emefiele dismisses fears over MPC meeting, insists economy is strong

    The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has allayed the fears of Nigerians and the international community over the inability to hold the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for January. A statement signed by Emefiele in Abuja on Monday, said that the meeting, which was earlier scheduled for the day […]

  • Nigeria, Angola crude overhang could pressurize Asian crude

    Traders have said that unsold barrels of crude from West Africa could put pressure on the premiums of Malaysian crude cargoes for March loading.   Platts reports that weaker demand, particularly from independent refineries in China, for February-loading Angolan and Nigerian grades has resulted in an overhang, traders said. Traders indicated that these grades were […]

  • NBS: 77.5m Nigerians engage in economic activities in Q3

    The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says 77.55 million people are engaged in economic activities out of a labour force of 85.08 million in the third quarter of 2017. The NBS disclosed this in a “Labour Force Statistics Volume 2: Employment by Sector report for Third Quarter of 2017’’ released by the bureau on Monday […]

  • Lassa fever: Schools reopen in Ebonyi

    Public and private schools in Ebonyi shut on Jan. 18 to check the spread of Lassa fever outbreak in the state have reopened the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports. Prof. John Eke, the Commissioner for Education, told NAN on Monday in Abakaliki, that the schools were reopened as no new case of the disease […]

  • Four major markets in Nigeria need 36.27MW to grow efficiency – REA

    A baseline survey of the energy needs of four of the major markets in Nigeria, which the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) conducted, has indicated that with 36.27 megawatts (MW) of stable electricity provided to them, economic productivity in the markets could expand and bring more prosperity to about 50,900 shop owners there, OGN reports. The […]

  • ALSCON: Nigeria, Russia sign Share Purchase agreement

    Nigeria has signed the Renewed Share Purchase Agreement with Messrs UC Rusal of Russia in respect of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON). The agreement was signed in in Abuja on Friday by the relevant government stakeholders, including the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi. Present at the ceremony were the […]

  • Slimming drugs: Expert calls for stiff regulation

    Dr Bamidele Iwalokun, a medical researcher with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Yaba, Lagos, has called for stiffer regulation of slimming drugs to safeguard the health of consumers. Iwalokun made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday. He said there was the need […]

  • Derivatives trading: US expert speaks on the pluses and pitfalls

    As part of strategic initiatives to enhance the efficiency of capital market operations in Nigeria, The Nigerian Stock Exchange and Coronation Merchant Bank invited the former Chair of the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission (US CFTC), Mr. James Stone to deliver a special lecture on ‘Pluses and Pitfalls of Derivatives Trading’ at the Nigerian Stock […]

  • Ajimobi: Oyo set to increase institutions subventions

    The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, has appealed to the striking state-owned higher institutions that his administration is prepared to increase their subventions. The governor said this would be achieved as soon as government’s renewed efforts to improve its revenue-base begin to bear fruits. Ajimobi, who made the appeal while inaugurating the governing councils of […]

  • SEC’s e-dividend free registration ends Feb 28

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has extended period for the free e-dividend registration to Feb. 28, to encourage more shareholders participation in the initiative. The commission in a statement obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, indicated that the extension was part of its developmental role. It said that the extension […]

  • Nigerian equities market goes bearish after hitting over nine year high

    FELIX OLOYEDE Profit-taking caused the Nigerian Stock market to go bearish for the first time this week after reaching over nine year high on Wednesday. The All Share Index declined -0.08 per cent to close at 44,848.74 point on Thursday after hitting 44885.24 point the previous day, the highest since September 2008 when it closed […]

  • 2019: Wike gets second term endorsement

    Residents of River state have endorsed the Governor, Nyesom Wike, for another term of four years. They declared their support for the governor when over 15,000 non-indigenes of the state visited the Government House on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, Channels TV reports. Wike urged Nigerians irrespective of their linguistic and religious affiliation […]

  • Banks enjoy improved liquidity as overnight rate drops three consecutive days

    FELIX OLOYEDE The redemption of Treasury Bills by Federal Government has helped to improve liquidity in Nigerian banking sector as overnight rate declined three consecutive times this week. Overnight (O/N) rate dropped -0.75 per cent to 5.75 per cent on Thursday, while Open Buy Back (OBB) rate was down -0.92 per cent to 5.25 per […]

  • Lassa fever: Ebonyi Schools proceed on forced break

    Schools in Ebonyi State have been directed to close for a week following the outbreak of Lassa fever in the state. The state government said the directive was given as part of measures to contain the spread of the disease in the state. Commissioner for Health, Umuzuruike Daniel, also confirmed the death of three victims […]