Mental Health: A necessity for regular checks

Mental Health: A necessity for regular checks

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By Gami Tadanyigbe, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Experts say mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, as well as contribute to their community for socio-economic development.

It is an integral component of health and well-being that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships and shape the world we live in.

Mental health conditions include mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities as well as other mental states associated with significant distress, impairment in functioning or risk of self-harm.

People with mental health conditions are more likely to experience lower levels of mental well-being, but this is not always or necessarily the case.

Meanwhile, mental health counselors are licensed professionals who treat the cognitive, behavioural, and emotional aspects of mental health and substance use conditions. They work with individuals, families, couples and groups in a variety of settings.

According to WHO, member states are committed to implementing the “Comprehensive mental health action plan 2013–2030, which aims to improve mental health by strengthening effective leadership and governance.

Also, by providing comprehensive, integrated and responsive community-based care, implementing promotion and prevention strategies and strengthening information system and research.

WHO gives particular emphasis to protecting and promoting human rights, empowering people with lived experience and ensuring a multisectoral and multistakeholder approach.

However, experts, counsellors and international NGOs have called on Nigerians on need to regularly visit a mental health counselor to help address their mental health challenges.

Experts counsel that there is the need for Nigerians to embrace periodic mental health check-ups to help tackle the increasing suicide and depression rate in the country.

Mrs Sa’adatu Adamu, Founder Secure-D-Future International Initiative (SDF), an NGO, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of 2nd Abuja Counsellors Summit and Expo that reguar mental health checks would help in preventing depression and other mental health challenges.

Adamu said counselling was very important as it tends to focus on helping deviants in the society, and tackles the increasing suicide and depression rate in the country.

According to her, mental health comes in any form and leads to depression, suicide and self-harm, adding that such can be averted by visiting a mental health counsellor regularly.

“It is important for Nigerians to embrace mental check-up and engage in therapy.

“Counselling is very important because counsellors work in rehabilitation centres, welfare offices, schools and hospitals in our communities.

“If you hear the stories we get regularly from schools, you will know that there is a need to really have these professionals around us.

“We hear stories of dysfunctional families, where children pick little things they see from other children and begin to act on them.

“I believe that counselling is very important in every aspect of our life; parents and children needs counselling and we need to shun stigmatising mental health patients,” she said.

However, the expert called on parents to develop a good channel of communication and relationships with their children to enable them know their mental health status for a better future.

The founder also said there were lots of mental health issues in the society, hence the need for government to come up with policies that could address same in the country.

A counselor, Mrs Hasiya Adamu-Biu, said there was need for every Nigerian to always consult a counsellor whenever they are faced with challenges.

Adamu-Biu maintained that there are issues in Nigeria that affect our mental state, that are temporary which could be addressed by visiting a mental health counselor within us.

According to her, there is a new mental health and counsellors Act aimed at teaching the counsellors how to use their profession to help address mental health challenges in the country.

“Untreated mental health conditions can affect not just the mind but also the body, and interfere with relationships and work.

“If you or a loved one are experiencing distressing emotions, thoughts, or behaviours and having trouble managing them, you might consider different treatment options, including mental health counseling.

“Mental health counselors are trained to do several things like talk to clients about their symptoms and discuss treatment options.

“Licensed professional counselors have the authority to diagnose mental health conditions while others require a physician, psychiatrist or psychologist to make a diagnosis,” she said.

The Head of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Trauma and Isolation Centre, Gwagwalada, FCT, Dr Vivian Kwaghe, said COVID-19 pandemic was traumatic to many Nigerians hence the need to visit a mental health counselor..

Kwaghe said that the centre was designated to manage moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 in FCT, adding that the severe cases were well managed during the outbreak.

According to her, the centre was able to manage over 1,400 COVID-19 cases through its dedicated staff and donation of equipment from well-meaning Nigerians.

She said mental health counselors can work alongside other types of medical providers including psychiatrists or primary care doctors to provide holistic treatment.

“Mental health professionals provide psychotherapy to help clients to understand their behaviours, emotions and thoughts.

“Mental health counselors also work with clients to develop goals and a treatment plan, and refer clients to other relevant healthcare providers or social services.

“We managed over 1,400 COVID-19 cases in this facility and our mortality rate was not compared to what it was projected to be,” she said.

She further said that some workers in the centre were infected, but none died during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that managing the infection was easier now as the centre has gained a lot of experience and it is not afraid of any outbreak that might come.

Mental health experts therefore advise Nigerians to embrace regular visits to counsellors for prevetive and managemment of mental health cases. (NANFeature) (

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