News Analysis

Coping In Periods Of Uncertainty And Chaos

2020 has been a peculiar year as it witnessed quite a number of telling events.

Early in the year, the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China spread into the country as it did to other nations worldwide affecting the socio-economic well-being of people. 

There is the consensus that with COVID-19, the world is not likely to be the same as a result of its ripple effects on the global economy.

Nigeria was just coming out of over five months lockdown when it was rocked by #EndSARS protests last month over brutality by some personnel of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

The peaceful protests took another dimension when hoodlums hijacked it, leading to widespread arson, looting and murder, thus creating panic over security of lives and property. 

These events coupled with attendant economic challenges occasioned by the fuel price and electricity tariff hike, are bound to induce stress, or increase its level.

During the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, people developed headache, insomnia, change in mood and hypertension from worries and fear.

All these have the potential to pitch people into mental disorder.

It is estimated that twenty to thirty percent of Nigerians are believed to suffer from various mental disorders, this is a significant number considering an estimated population of over two hundred million people.

Experts are of the opinion that common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse related ailments, will disable more people compared to complications arising from AIDS, heart disease, accidents, and war combined.

Besides the current statistics, recent suicidal episodes in the country warrant a rethink on general attitudes to mental health.

As economic instability bites harder in the country, it is pertinent to also look at its effect on people’s mental health. 

The economic hardship, uncertainties and paranoia created by COVID-19 can be crippling for those that suffer from anxiety disorder.

Preventive measures are therefore crucial in mitigating the impact of the mental health challenge.

As a protective step, it is vital that those suffering from anxiety disorders pay close attention to their own mental and psychological well-being.

Spiritual therapy is also valuable in this regard, people confronted with mental health disorder should be close to God, go for counselling from religious leaders on issues troubling them.

Relaxation can equally have a good effect, this could involve taking time off work, going on vacations and listening to music.

On its part, government must intensify efforts in creating a conducive economic atmosphere by providing jobs, escalate current poverty alleviation programmes to reduce crimes and chaos.

It is important for government to avoid policies that the masses view as potential catalyst for hardship and emotional trauma, thereby increasing worry and tension.

Above all, government should fulfil the promise made to support those who lost their property during the #EndSARS protest to restore their hope.

The present fuel increase and electricity tariff hike have created economic trauma for many Nigerians, it therefore behooves government to come up with palliatives like tax reduction for income earners and support funds for artisans and people in the informal sector to enable them cope with tensions associated with the unbearable high cost of living in the country.

Olukemi Akintunde

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