By Mrs. AdebanjoAyomide Temitayo
According to W.H.O (World Health Organisation), health can bedefined as both physical, social, emotional, and mental well- being of an individual.This definition elucidates that being healthy can not only be justified orportrayed by physical appearance, being healthy involves the mental and socialwell-being of an individual. Now one maywonder, what are the causes of mental illness? Although, there is no particularcause that can be capitalised as the root of mental illness. However, there aremany situations and occurrence that may lead to mental illness one of which isvery common in Nigeria, depression. Other causes of mental illness areemotional distress, mental stress, brain tumour, bitter experience, and so manymore. Women go through a lot at every phase of their existence. Beginning fromthe puberty stage, to menstrual flow, being a wife, being a mother and mostimportantly, a working mother. Nigerians, especially men, think that womenexaggerate when it comes to the issue that surrounds them but this is not true.Women, especially working family women, multitask on a daily bases. Frompreparing breakfast, grooming the children, attending to work/business, shebarely has time for herself and no one notices. Women suffer mental stress butscared to complain because the society will tag her as a lazy or an irresponsiblewoman.
So far in Nigeria, people have not been sensitizedwell enough on mental health in women and how it should be handled within thesociety. From a pen holder point of view, mental illness happens to anybody. Let’slook into the issue of single mothers. Up until this moment, single mothershave always been stigmatised and regarded negatively in the society. Meanwhile,she finds it difficult to have her own husband just because she has a childprobably from a failed relationship. She is not accepted therefore she wants todo everything to be successful enough to take care of her child. In situationswhen she is not able to meet the needs of her child, there are lots of chancesthat she would break down and feel depressed. Same goes for divorced Women. Themoment a woman walks out of her marriage, she becomes a laughing stock in thesociety. Hence, she becomes troubled and uncomfortable which may lead todepression. Depression in Nigeria is being addressed, however, we have not beenable to avoid the cause of depression amongst women.
This is not to say that married women do not go through mental stress too. Married men are not ridiculed or attacked when they complain of mental stress. The society will be so quick to support and commend him for providing for the family and ensuring the family is protected. Then, what about the woman who wakes up early enough to bath her children, make breakfast for the family, prepare herself and her husband for work, and still go to work after all? Married women hardly complain or ask their husbands for support based on the myth that “it is not a man’s duty”. Our society has placed so much importance on the mental well-being of the men folk, not considering what a woman is going through within her head as a result of multi-tasking. Husbands need to be sensitive about the well-being of their wives. Also men has to be supportive and provide tender love and care (TLC) to their spouse. This way Women will be assured of their mental well being.
The Nigerian government and societies also have a lotto impact when it comes to mental health in women. First, the grassroots needsto be aware of their power to save a woman from mental illness. One of these powersis acceptance. Women especially divorced or single parent, find it difficult tobe accepted in the society because of their current situation. However, thesociety needs to be educated on accepting a woman’s choice or situation. It isnot always a woman’s choice to be divorced or a single parent, sometimes shejust finds herself in the uncontrollable situation. Another way the society cansave women from mental illness/stress is through care conversation. Careconversation involves communication and listening skills to ask questions and helpwomen make informed choices about how they would want to be supported duringtheir time of distress. If no member of the family or society is capable ofhandling care conversation, then such woman should be referred to apsychologist, counsellor or psychiatrist, as the case may be. However, Nigerians fear to consult these setof professionals so as not to be stigmatised or tagged “MAD” in the society.
It is important for Nigerians to acknowledge the factthat women go through mental stress and depression therefore women who bear thesymptoms should not be left unattended to. Interestingly, patients with mentalillness need more attention than someone who is suffering typhoid and any otherphysical illness. Sadly, this is not the case in Nigeria we can only hope thatthe future holds a better and enlightened society for us.
#Gender And Accountability