File photo: Nigerians
The current fresh gist on air reveal as it is no longer news that the negative impact of the current economic recession is hitting hard as unconfirmed reports show growing cases of suicide among Nigerians.
Imformation has it that only last week the Nigeria Police Force during an interactive session in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, expressed worry over the rising cases of suicide among its officers across the country.
Investigations by Good Health Weekly also show that in recent times the number of psychiatric consultations and admissions have risen significantly. Findings show that the deepening economic crisis is profoundly impacting adults, men, women, children, youth and infants alike.
Effects on social behaviour
For instance, significant stressors such as loss of livelihood, depleted financial income and reduced purchasing power, lack of savings, etc., is straining individual, familial and group associations and relationships.
For already low-income families, the effect is more pronounced with basic needs such as food security, transportation, healthcare and shelter becoming largely unmet. Not only is the worsening economy impacting negatively on social life and community health, the forced changes are having profound and lasting effects on the Mental health of the populace, leading to problems of anxiety, lowered self-esteem and other emotional/behavioral difficulties.
Coping with stress: Indeed, coupled with the stress that the economic downturn has produced there are more patients with mental health challenges. For instance, overall Patient attendance at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatrist Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, went up 111 per cent while number of new patients increased 59 per cent within the first 11 months of 2016.
Good Health Weekly observed that between January and November 2016, patient attendance at the health institution totaled 53, 287 compared to 25,267 for the same period in 2015. More women than men appeared to be seeking help for psychiatric illnesses because during the period in question, the number of female patients increased 135 per cent from 13,730 to 32,261, compared to an increase of 82 per cent from 11,537 to 21,026, for male patients.
The number of new patients in the hospital increased from 2,531 to 4,031. Of the new patients, 2,001 were male representing 53 per cent increase over the 1,306 recorded last year, while 2,030 were female, a 66 per cent increase over the previous year. In absolute figures, there was an overall 46 per cent increase in number of admissions in 2016 (867) compared to 594 in 2015, while the community clinic attendance went up from 1,793 to 3,510, a 95 per cent increase.
Even children were not spared as there was a 144 per cent increase in the number of child/adolescent clinic attendance from 1,375 to 3,355. This comprised a 141 percent increase of girls from 2,311 to 5,581, and 138 per cent increase for boys, from 936 to 2,226. Also, the number of follow up patients increased 74 percent from 19,889 (9,076 male and 10,813 female) to 34,536 (11,608 male and 22,928 female).
Proferring solution to biting effects of recession on mental health, medical experts say to escape mental disorders which may lead to suicide, Nigerians must adopt proper income planning and manage their emotions properly. “The high cases of depressive illnesses are no doubt as a result of the economic recession and a lot of people are being affected.
Even in our hospital wards now, we see a lot of people coming down with depressive illness, suicide, and depression, deliberate self-harm and by the time we look at the primary cause of these illnesses, it was actually this recession going on,” a Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro Psychiatrist Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Bolanle Ajayi told Good Health Weekly. Ajayi, who is also a Senior Registrar at the hospital, explained that many Nigerians are psychologically, socially and emotionally affected. “Some people have the ability to discuss it and get over it while some do not have such abilities. Some of them had a lot of businesses they were doing and they were doing very well then, but because of this recession, something happened; their businesses is not going on like it used to be and a lot of people are coming down with depression,” she added.
Research has shown link between individual poverty and mental health. She explained that in situations like this some adults may come down with depressive disorder such as mood disorders, an extreme form of sadness, as to lose sleep and not be able to function very well.
“People suffering this form of mental disorder do not have interest in previous pleasurable exercise. Sometimes, they may even want to commit suicide or write suicide notes.
“Also, because of the economic situation, more people are affected due to stress. Virtually all kinds of pressures lead to one sickness or another. When someone has mental illness, and wants to buy medication and he/she cannot afford it, he gets home and somebody provokes him, things like that affect people in the long run.
“Take for instance in our hospital now, many of our patients on treatment are no longer coming either due to money for transportation or they are not able to pay for their treatment. Some new patients now find it difficult to pay for their files. All these contribute to the increase in mental cases.”
Manage what you earn: Ajayi who described depression as a common mental disorder that affects people of all ages, advised Nigerians to do their best and manage whatever they earn.
“The era we are in now is when the money comes you sit down on a roundtable in your house and do a proper plan on it because you don’t know when another one will come in," she added. “We don’t want more people breaking down with psychiatric illness because of recession. As individuals we have to try and manage our emotions, we have to shift a bit. That means that I have to row with the economic recession so as not to affect my own emotional and mental state.”