There's no shame in taking care of your mental health by Sangu Delle Transcript ~ Instant Motivation Hub (IMH)

Saturday, 3 June 2017

There's no shame in taking care of your mental health by Sangu Delle Transcript

Last year was hell. It was my first time eating Nigerian Jellof. Actually in all seriousness, I was going through a lot of personal turmoil. Faced with enormous stress. I suffered an anxiety attack. On some days I could do no work, on other days I just wanted to lay in my bed and cry. My doctor asked if I'd like to speak with a mental health professional about my stress and anxiety. Mental health? I clammed up and violently shook my head in protest. I felt a profound sense of shame. I felt the weight of stigma. I have a loving supportive family and incredibly loyal friends, yet I could not entertain the idea of speaking to anyone about my feeling of pain. I felt suffocated by the rigid architecture of our African masculinity. People have real problems Sangu, get over yourself.

The first time I had mental health, I was a boarding school students flash of the boots from Ghana at the Peddie school in New Jersey. I had just gone through the brutal experience of losing seven loved ones in the same month. The school nurse concerned about what I had gone through. God bless her soul, she inquired about my mental health. Is she mental, I thought. Does she not know I'm an African man? Like okonkwo and things fall apart. We African men neither process nor express our emotions, we deal with our problems. We deal with our problems.

I called my brother and loved about Oyibo people (white people) and their strange diseases. Depression, Dede and those weird things. Growing up in West Africa, when people use the term mental, what came to mind was a madman with dirty dreadlock hair bumbling around half naked on the streets. “We all know this man, our parents warned us about him. Mummy mummy why's he mad? Drugs if you even look at drugs you end up like him. Come down with pneumonia and your mother will rush you to the nearest hospital for medical treatment ,but dare to declare depression and your local pastor will be driving out demons and blaming witches in your village.

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is about being able to cope with the normal stresses of life to work productively and fruitfully and to be able to make a contribution to your community. Mental health includes our emotional psychological and a social well-being. Globally,75% of all mental illness cases can be found in low-income countries, yet most African governments invest less than 1% of their healthcare budget on mental health. Even worse, we have a severe shortage of psychiatrists in Africa. Nigeria for example, is estimated to have 200 in a country of almost 200 million. In all of Africa, 90 % of our people lack access to treatment. As a result, we suffer in solitude, silenced by stigma. We as Africans often respond to mental health with distance, ignorant ,guilt, fear and anger.

In a study conducted by a ball a bola de Flores directly asking, what is the cause of mental illness? 34.% of Nigerian respondents cited drug misuse. 90%. Said divine wrath and the will of God, 12% witchcraft and spiritual possession, but few cited other known causes of mental illness like genetics, socioeconomic status, war conflicts or the loss of a loved one. The stigmatization against mental illness often results in the ostracizing and demonizing of sufferers.

Photo journalist Robert Hammond has documented some of these abuses, in Uganda, in Somalia and here in Nigeria. For me, the stigma is personal. In 2009, I received a frantic call in the middle of the night. My best friend in the world. A brilliant ,philosophical, charming hip young man was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I witnessed some of the friends we've grown up with recoiled. I heard the Snickers, I heard the whispers. Did you hear he has gone mad? He start touch Oh. Derogatory, demeaning commentary about his condition. Words we would never say about someone with cancer or someone with malaria somehow when it comes to mental illness are ignorant eviscerates or empathy.

I stood by his side as his community isolated him. But I loved never wavered. Tacitly I became passionate about mental health, inspired by his plight. I helped found the mental health special interest alumni group at my college and during my tenure as a resident tutor and graduate school, I supported many undergraduates with their mental health challenges.

I saw African students struggle and unable to speak to anyone even with this knowledge and with their stories in toll. I intend struggled and could not speak to anyone when I faced my own anxieties. So deep is our fear of being the madman. All of us, but we Africans especially need to realize that our mental struggles do not be tracked from our virility. Not as our trauma taint our strength. We need to see mental health as important as physical health. We need to stop suffering and silence, we must stop stigmatizing disease and traumatizing the afflicted. Talk to your friends, talk to your loved ones, talk to health Professionals, be vulnerable, do so with the confidence that you are not alone. Speak up if you are struggling being honest about how we feel does not make us weak it makes us human. It is time to end the stigma associated with mental illness. So the next time you hear mental do not just think of the madman, think of me.

Thank you.


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