Experts have advised members of the public against stigmatising people who have suffered postpartum depression and other forms of mental health disorders.
They made the call yesterday in Abuja during the launch of Maria Adeyoyin Postpartum Depression Support International (MAPDSI). The theme was “Na mental illness I get, I no kill person: Demystifying the stigma surrounding mental illness in Nigeria”.
Dr Jimoh Oyewale, Senior Registrar at the Department of Psychiatry, National Hospital, Abuja, said there were lots of myths and misconceptions around mental illness.
He said myths included belief that it was a spiritual illness, divine punishment or a demonic possession, hence the stigmatision that the people who suffered from the condition were killers, witches, people who should not be married, among others.
While describing mental illness as a medical condition, he said postpartum depression for instance had effects on both mother and child.
He said around 10 to 15 per cent of women in Nigeria suffered from postpartum depression after delivery.
The expert further said it was important to screen pregnant women when they came to the hospital, and even after delivery, so that the condition could be detected early.
According to him, some symptoms of postpartum depression are poor sleep, being irritated easily, low mood, losing interest in previously pleasurable activities, and in severe cases becoming psychotic like hearing voices and seeing things that are not there.
Enitan Oyenuga, a life coach and clinical psychologist, said the mind was one of the most important organs of the body, adding that when anything went wrong with the mind it affected everything else such as thoughts, feelings, moods, emotions and environment.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Mental Health Bill, saying it would help address a lot of challenges concerning mental health in the country.
Badejo Rebecca and Opeoluwa Adebayo, who are psychologists, advised Nigerians to look beyond outward appearance when it came to mental health, and to note that mental health disorders affected people of all ages and races.
Adeleke Onifade, founder of MAPDSI, said she was inspired to set up the foundation because of her experience as a three-time postpartum depression survivor, as well as the need to provide help to other women suffering from it and other forms of mental health disorder.
She said the foundation would sensitise women on assessing and recognising the symptoms of mental health in order to seek help.
She added that MAPDSI would also provide counselling for affected women through its psychotherapists and psychiatrists.