Rising Mental Health Crises In Nsukka Worry Non-indigenes  

Rising Number Of Mentally ill Persons In Nsukka Worry Residents  

3 months ago
4 mins read

The growing number of mentally displaced persons in parts of Nsukka in Enugu State, Nigeria is becoming a source of worry to many residents and therefore calls for urgent attention.

Residents, especially non-indigenes in Onuiyi Nsukka, an area close to the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) second gate, have expressed fear of threat to their safety due to the alarming increase in number of mentally ill people who roam the streets and approach people menacingly.

A recent survey shows that at least one mentally disabled person is seen every day roaming the streets in the area.

Some non-indigenes who spoke to this correspondent said they walk in fear because they are not familiar with the environment. “I had to stop following the main road because of these mad people. There was a certain day one of them was just violently throwing stones at passersby,” Miss Decent Michael, a resident lamented, adding that she feels uncomfortable each time she is walking close to them, especially after her experience.

In another interview, Miss Rita Anyadinuno explained that she was also surprised to notice many mentally ill people in the area, adding that she has never been familiar with the situation.

“I still feel afraid sometimes because they can be unpredictable, but I try to get used to them,” she added.

However, some of the residents who are Nsukka Indigenes stated that most of the mentally deranged persons are not from Nsukka.  In an interview with an old resident of the area who pleaded anonymity, she stated that some mentally disabled people are usually deported from other states of the Federation. She claimed that while some of them walk from states like Ebonyi, some are also sent down by their families to the area, due to the stigma.

In the same light, Mr. Solomon Obi, another resident explained further that: “Nsukka is a very open area, with no restrictions or ostracization of mentally disabled people. That is why it seems like a dumping ground for them.”

READ ALSO: World Mental Health Day: Factors That Trigger Mental Health Problems In Nigeria And Possible Solutions

“Also, a good number of the indigenes are idol worshippers and part of their belief system punishes defaulters with mental disability.”

Obi also claimed that the issue of internet fraud, which has been on a rise lately in the area is also another cause of the increase in mental problem. This, according to him, is because, some of the youngsters engage in certain rituals that would allow them to be mentally disabled for a period of time. Some, he said, recover while others do not.

When asked what should be done to curb this situation, he advised the government to establish psychiatric centres for mental rehabilitation in the town. This, he said, would serve as a home for them to be taken off the street and make the environment look healthy, safe and organised.

“I believe parents should also imbibe good morals on their children. This would be a preventive measure against internet fraud and other punishable offences. The security personnel should be at alert and always ready to expel mad people, especially from school areas.

“Additionally, orthodox and non-orthodox means like the use of herbs could be suitable treatment for some of them. The government should also ban the importation of mad people in the area,” Obi further stated.

Commenting on the issue of mental disability, a psychologist, Dr Nkechi Chukwuemeka, who is a lecturer at the Department of Psychology, UNN, pointed out that there are differences between mental challenge and mental illness. Mental challenge, according to her, is a neurological issue that usually develops while the child is still a fetus, or it may be transferred genetically. But mental illness, which is also known as madness can be caused by severe psychological stress which the victim may not be able to cope with.

She gave a number of reasons as to the cause of the rise of mental illness in the area, one of which is caused by bio-psychosocial factor. This could be a biological issue where there is an imbalance in the neurotransmitters of the individual. It can also be genetic, where there is a history of mental illness in the family lineage. She also listed psychological issues as another major cause of mental illness. This is the inability of individuals to meet their emotional needs.

Chukwuemeka explained that the country at large is psychologically stressed out. People are finding it difficult to feed and many parents are struggling to pay their children school fees. Issues like this cause intense stress and this can trigger madness, “especially when you overlook them,” she said.

“They can come as depression and there are some kinds of depression that can make somebody mental.”

The psychologist further stated that most mental illness cases are managed and can’t be treated once and for all, adding that psychiatrist and psychologist are the core experts in managing it. She both professionals work hand in hand to have good in managing mental health cases.

“If it is the one that has triggered to chronic level, then the psychiatrist will first of all administer drugs to calm the patient. When they get stable to an extent, the Psychologist now comes in.”

In her bid to proffer solutions, the expert advised members of the public to be careful of how they handle other people. The university don, who is also a psychological consultant at Bishop Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka, said that everyone in the society have their own role to play, including government, parents, family members, students, and lecturers. She called on the government to make society more conducive for the citizens. The consultant advised individuals and families to watch out for family and friends and always make sure they are in good condition.

“If you see someone looking tattered and not fine, don’t just start gossip. Instead, call the person and know if there is a way you can be of help to that person,” She advised.

The psychological consultant called on the traditional rulers of the area, the churches, UNN authorities and the community at large, to pull resources together and get a standard psychiatrist hospital that would be affordable for the residents. She said that if they keep waiting for government intervention, not much will be done.


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