Seven Million Nigerians Have Mental Related Ailments, Says Expert


By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

A prominent medical consultant and Chairman of the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria, Ekiti Zone, Dr. Olabode Shabi, has said that about seven million Nigerians are currently suffering from mental health problems associated with stress and depression.

In his delivered paper titled ‘Stress and Depression in Workplace: Strategic approach to management’ presented in Ado Ekiti at a lecture organised by the Information Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Ekiti State, Shabi described stress as an exaggeration of normal physical response to events and life challenges that make a person feel threatened or upset in some ways adding that depression is a common mental health problem affecting 29 million persons in Africa out of an estimated 322 million people worldwide.

Shabi who is also the Chief Consultant, Family Health of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido Ekiti, identified major causes of stress in workplace to include “ambiguity in the job schedule of workers, career development pressure, poor working environment, lack of job security, fear
of redundancy and early retirement, struggling to meet unrealistic targets, poor interpersonal relationship with the colleagues and superiors as well as low trust level and lack of problem sharing among workers.”

Stressing that no human being has absolute immunity from depression under certain circumstances, Shabi highlighted major symptoms of the condition to include “persistently sad moods, loss of pleasure in usual activities, feeling of helplessness and guilt or worthlessness, fatigue or decreased energy, loss of memory and concentration, loss of decision-making
capability, poor abstract reasoning, restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbance and loss in appetite or weight.”

The SFPN Zonal Chairman listed major causes of stressful life conditions to include low literacy level, poverty and short life expectancy and negative life events such as bereavement, job loss, financial difficulties, divorce, loneliness, childhood abuse and neglect, medical illnesses and exposure to chronic pains as well as imbibing some mentally stressful lifestyles such as misuse of certain prescription drugs and abuse of substances such as cocaine, narcotics and alcohol as causes of depression outside the workplace.

He identified strategies for managing stress to include avoiding unnecessary stress, reducing job stress by improving emotional intelligence, creating time for fun and relaxation, better management of one’s time, be willing to compromise, reframe problems, focuson positive things, accepting things one cannot change, sharing feelings with friends, resolving conflict positively, adopting healthy lifestyles,exercising regularly, eating healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and drugs reducing sugar and caffeine as well as getting enough sleep.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary of the Ekiti State Ministry of Information, Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Kola Ajumobi, advised workers to pay more attention to their health to reduce their chances of becoming victims of Sudden Death Syndrome.