Over the years, there has been increasing acknowledgement that mental illness is a common condition that can affect anyone regardless of age, race, religion, or income.
According to Who Health Organisation (WHO), over 20 million Nigerians have various mental health conditions and the demand for mental health care has continued to increase, with more people seeking therapy and counseling.
In recent times, the number of adolescents who struggle and are often faced with challenges, depression and mental imbalance as they transit into adulthood has become worrisome especially in Bayelsa State.
This formed the crux of discourse at the medical outreach organized by the the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) in collaboration with mental health experts from the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, which was held at the Community Primary School, Central Epie in Yenagoa, the state capital.
With the theme “Promoting Good Mental Health in Adolescence: A Catalyst for Successful Transition from Childhood to Adulthood”, the outreach was targeted at fostering good mental health among adolescents, illuminated the Common Mental Health Challenges in Adolescence, including Depression, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse, Self-Harm, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
According to the convener and capoon of the Oxbow Marino Deck of NAS, Mr Ebi Ayerite, the importance of addressing mental health issues early on cannot be overemphasized, while urging parents, teachers, and adolescents to remain vigilant for signs of these challenges, encourage open dialogue and seek assistance when needed.
Dr Oru Inetsol of the Department of Internal Medicine at Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital explained that an individual’s mental health encompasses their emotional, psychological and social wellbeing, adding that the three elements involve how one thinks and responds to life situation as well as how they interact with others.
He said that depression and anxiety disorder are the two common mental health conditions mostly caused by adverse life events, drug and alcohol use, genetic factors and broken homes which are more prevalent among adolescents.
Highlighting the importance of mental health, Mr Frank Akpojisheri Ogheneochuko of the Department of Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing Sciences at Niger Delta University, said there is need for young people to manage stress appropriately in order to maintain a mental well-being as most adolescents face numerous challenges in Nigeria.
Also, vice principal, Academics at Bayelsa State School of Nursing Tombia, Ene Deriateide Efere, urged management of tertiary and secondary institutions of learning in the state to provide practical tools for maintaining good mental health, such as allowing students and teachers to engage in regular physical activity to manage stress, maintain a healthy daily routine, cultivating mindfulness, limiting screen time, addressing emotions openly, setting realistic goals, practicing effective time management, moderating caffeine and sugar intake, and seeking professional help when necessary.
One of the participants, Ebitimi Michael who spoke on behalf of others, expressed their gratitude to the association for organizing such an insightful outreach and pledged to integrate the lessons learnt into their daily lives and to spread awareness about the significance of promoting good mental health among adolescents.