The truth about mental health disorder is hard to find. This is not because they are rare but as a result of the stigma that is attached to mental health disorders in our environment.
The truth about mental health disorders is that as a country, we are not doing enough. From public health education to early diagnosis, treatment, limitation of disability and rehabilitation. We have failed. This article will thrash out some of the more common myths about mental health. Hopefully, this will help shed some light on frequently asked questions on mental health disorders.
MYTH 1: They cannot be treated.
I don’t know who told Nigerians this but sorry to burst your bubble, they can. Just like any other disease, there are drugs, therapies that can be used in the treatment of various mental health disorder. Go to a hospital, get diagnosed and get help.
MYTH 2: It only happens to other people.
I have heard this from even educated people and it brings home the fact that our people truly suffer from lack of knowledge. There are many different disorders and they can happen to anybody. Depression, postpartum depression, schizophrenia, somatoform disorders and other big words that just mean there’s something wrong. Anybody can have a disorder. I have to repeat, get help.
MYTH 3: It is mostly caused by addictions.
I agree that drugs cause a good number of mental disorders but do you realise that some people turn to drug abuse because they have an undiagnosed mental disorder to start with? Sure, the side effect of some drugs includes psychosis but some people feel they have no choice but to use drugs to help them cope with whatever they’re going through. Some people get addicted to some drugs just to help them sleep, some take the drugs to help them stay awake, some take it to get through the day. The underlying problem, however, has not been eliminated by the drugs. In light of this, putting all our resources into the prevention of drug trafficking and addiction is mostly useless in preventing the occurrence of mental health disorders.
MYTH 4: Only those ”roaming” are mad.
Those people you see on the road are called vagrant psychotics. They end up like that as a result of improper care. Instead of going to a hospital, most people go to prayer houses and ‘Baba’ where they proceed to burn, flog and starve the madness out. I laugh in Spanish. It does not work. All you need is a proper diagnosis from a psychiatrist and you’ll be fine.
MYTH 5: It is spiritual.
There is no arrow. It’s not your village people doing you. Nobody is targeting you. Your neighbours didn’t poison your food because they are jealous of you. It is a sickness, God is not testing you. The Devil is not giving you trials and tribulation. You cannot flog it away. It cannot be prayed away. You cannot fast it away. Just go to a hospital early before it becomes bad enough to become a disability.
The truth about mental health disorders is that most people are so uninformed. Forget the stigma, this is your health. If you feel something is wrong, just go to a hospital, that’s why the doctors are there. Photo Credit: Getty