To many keen observers and watchers of global trends, there is no doubt that the coming of coronavirus popularly tagged Covid-19 and the accompanying lockdown has left many people as victims, as many people have died, so many people also must have lost their loved ones, many others would still be living in fears and anxieties, many have lost their jobs while others are on the verge of losing theirs in the post Covid -19 period.
For this reason the publishers of Freelanews an online news in their weekly leadership webinar sought the attention of a mental health advocate Mrs Tolulope Medebem to look into how to deal with mental health in a lockdown.
Mrs. Medebem living up to expectation of the organisers looked into the subject matter to arrive at the solution that the society has a role to play in containing mental hazzards that many be occasioned by the pandemic and its lockdown effects.
Drawing a remark from her lockdown notes, Mrs. Medebem expressed that “confinement affects us in different ways depending on our peculiar circumstances, experiences and needs”. Going ahead, she explained mental health as situation of “our emotional psychological and social well being which affect how we think, feel, and act.
“It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.” She explained further that “mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
She however lamented a situation of societal quietness over human mental, health saying people are not willing to open up about their mental health, especially when they suffer depression and anxiety and in most situation leads to suicide.
“People within our society actually find it difficult talking about their mental well being because we have been conditioned to ignore it or otherwise be thought of as mad. Suicide are on the increase because people are being stretched to their limits and one of the things we have also realised now is that a lot of people don’t know how to express what they are going through, concluding that one of the major causes of mental issues within the lockdown were negative triggers.
Another contributor Otunba Abegunde reasoned that there are many factors that could influence a person’s decision to commit sucide and the most common is depression. “Most people make the decision to attempt suicide shortly before doing so impulsively rather than planning it out extensively,” adding that “depression can make people feel great emotional pain and loss of hope, making them unable to see another way to relief the pain other than ending their own life.”
Also speaking on anxiety, Mrs Medebem defined anxiety as “ a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. “You are not sure of what’s going to happen next or even how,” but she was quick to add that anxiety is usually self diagnosable and treatable by medical professionals.
As a way out the mental health advocate recommended what she tagged self love. “Self care requires you to check in with yourself on a daily basis and really listen to what your needs and feelings are, advocating it is extremely important for maintaining your physical, spiritual and mental well being, even though self love is seen as being selfish, it is a good way to be conscious of one’s mental health.”
She also called on religious communities to champion the cause of mental health. According to her one of the things we are trying to champion is to get the religious communities to be involved much more than before “lamenting that “ we are a deeply religious society but these bodies haven’t helped much and it would actually make a difference if they got involved more actively.
When asked if ministers of God would be in the best frame of mind to counsel mental health cases noting what they too were passing through from the long lockdown occasioned by the Covid -19, Mrs. Medebem advised them not to see and limit themselves to the four walls of the Church but see their ministries beyond Church building by reaching out to everyone in the streets and the neighbourhood.
“The truth is that what should be motivating them as leaders is the genuine work for the Lord which means the closure of the Church building should not be an issue for them so as to discourage them from doing the work of the gospel.
“The Lord is not the building. Everyone has his or her own issue to contend with now but spiritual leaders also have a duty to their people and for their people.”
She of course counselled that medical issues require medical attention. “We are such a deeply religious society that people with issues will call to pray. Prayer is good but if you have a medical condition, you need to seek for medical help.
“Mental illness is not a death sentence. It can be treated if arrested urgently. The treatment starts along with spiritual guidance by the spiritual leaders. We honestly need the religious leaders to be more involved in their people’s mental well being.”
Other recommendations and antidote to adverse mental health is to strongly believe in the healing and refreshing power of God, mutual care for one another, doing away with negative thoughts, and to be conscious of the agony of the family of the victims.
The host, Mr. Victor Ojelabi in his closing remarks expressed the hope that participants would see the need to help people suffering from mental health during and after the Covid -19 pandemic, encourage them to live rather than do away with them to worsen their situations.