Reducing the stigmatization against mental health victims

mental disorder

Mental illness has indeed become one of the major disturbing challenges in our society today. The remote causes of mental disorder are often unclear, but common causes include; drug abuse, depression, schizophrenia as well as stigma and discrimination. Mental disorder does not just develop in people, it is often an accumulation of emotional breakdowns through loss, panic attacks, phobias, heartbreaks and anxiety. It could also be lack of self confidence, stress, depression, emotional or psychological trauma, schizophrenia and loneliness. There are many other reasons people could be mentally ill.
Mental health victims are often stigmatized, scorned and neglected, they are seen everywhere in our society as being unfortunate, sinisterly and possessed by evil powers and not fit to be classed as normal human beings. Most of the people suffering from mental disorder are often shackled , locked up and beaten up. A lot of the victims are everywhere on our streets, in their own little-confused world, cut out from others and rated as being obsessed with evil spirit that must be ignored. They are regularly beaten up and no one cares to offer help. When the victims are hungry and want to go to people for assistance, they are ignored or chased away.
Sometimes, most of them are taken to traditional herbalists, spiritualists, witch doctors and other religious places where it is believed that the priests will consult the gods and drive away the evil spirit they’ ve been bewitched with. In these places, these victims are subjected to the worst human treatment because of the erroneous belief that they are possessed by evil spirits, they are given bad foods , concoctions made from various incogitable herbs and spices which make them dose-off unconsciously. Sometimes, they are made to sleep on the floor under an unfavourable weather conditions, others are incarcerated in the dark, lonely damp cells with no lights. There is this superstition belief that the victims are incapable of self-reasoning unless when beaten. Some people turn the victims into emergency beggars, taking them round the streets in shackles, begging alms and making money from them.
Unfortunately, the family of the victims are also not helping matters. They simply want to get rid of what they consider as embarrassment and are fast to dump the victims in these despicable places to cover their ‘shame’ . Many do not go back to see their mentally ill relations again, and this is the main reason why their victims are treated like criminals.
I wish to point out clearly here that mental disorder is not only as a result of strange or evil spirits as wrongly believed by many but as a result of common delinquency. Victims of mental disorder are just casualties. Victims can still leave productive and fulfilling lives with appropriate support and right treatment, they are not to be written off as we do here in Nigeria. What most of them need is drug and right medical attention, while others may need just our support, care and good advice to foster their full recovery. Mental disorder is just like any other ill health, It is not often the fault of the victims neither is it something to be ashamed of.
It is important we get a quick help once we get ourselves into any of the causes of this disorder. As difficult as it seem, most of us suffers one mental health problem or the other, but it is how we deal with them that determines how far we go. We are quick to conclude that only those who are cut out are mentally ill, but most of us have one way or the other been mentally ill and regularly needs help. Mental health victims should not be stigmatized because they can recover fully through our support, get over their worst and begin to leave their normal lives.
Nigerians have gone through alot of stress and trauma over the years caused by clueless and wicked leadership. We have experienced the worst poverty which is equivalent to mental disorder, the loss of our loved ones through tragic deaths, inadequate infrastructure that makes live meaningful are eluding us with its resultant psychological traumas. All these contribute to mental breakdown and inability to leave a reasonable life often leading to depression and consequent mental illness. We need to be more receptive and supportive of ourselves through these trying period in our national life.
Let us change our views about mental illness. It is just another natural process we go through. We all get sick in bad conditions, we get headache, body aches, cancer, COVID19 and other sicknesses. Most of these other diseases are worst than some of the mental health conditions and anyone could experience it and recover from it like any other disease. It is not an affliction from any bad spirit. Let us treat mental health victims with respect and care . With our support they will easily recover from it.


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