Here’s a question for you: How does your welfare affect your mental health?
Hardly? Mostly? Never? Or does it mean the same thing to you? Are there any differences?
What do the terms ‘welfare’ and ‘mental health’ mean to you?
Let’s look at some general definitions:
Welfare – the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity.
Mental health – a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
Notice any similarities?
“It’s not my portion”
You may agree that these matters are hardly discussed in African societies, especially where mental health issues are stigmatised. We might approach welfare with open arms, but at any mention of mental health, we shout “I reject it” or “God forbid”. It is such a taboo subject.
But look at this way: Someone can be physically sick, emotionally down, financially broke, and mentally ill! As a result, their behaviour may come across as strange to others, not because they are “possessed” but because of certain triggers (could be any of the above-mentioned) that might make them act differently.
For instance, some people react angrily under duress. Others may cry at the sight of something small, an unrelated comment or incident to the situation they are in. So, mental health issues are more prevalent than we think, and we may not describe ourselves as victims. No one hopes or prays to be sick, do they?
Due to the stigma attached to mental health issues, many people refuse to speak up when faced with difficulties.
So, how do we as individuals help society to remove this stigma and recognise the need for help? We could:
1. Encourage people to talk about their challenges.
2. Learn to pay attention to little details.
3. Show love and understanding wherever we go, including within online spaces.
At the recent International Female Students Conference, we addressed the topic of welfarism as it particularly affects female students in campus environments. For some reason, we are drawn back to this topic again from a wider perspective, and for all students.
Statistics show a 64% prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress amongst tertiary education students in Nigeria. So, what affects the mental health of students in tertiary education? Is it the academic workload, bad grades, financial challenges, time management, unrealistic expectations, or other concerns? The students in this video give us some clues.
Now, how do they deal with these triggers? These topics will be discussed this Saturday 18th November at a free webinar titled “Mental Health and Stress Challenges Amongst University Students”. The event hashtag is #BeKindToYourMind and host, Rose Nwako, will address the issues with Dr Angelica Uwaezuoke from 10am – 11:30am (West African Time).
If you have any connection or affiliation to tertiary education, either as a student, staff, or parent/guardian, you are very welcome to register and attend using this link: https://tix.africa/studentmhs. Do also share this information with your friends, colleagues and relatives who study, work, or live in an academic environment. The webinar promises to be highly beneficial as it’s such an important and relevant topic.
Finally, bring your questions, your experiences, and your VOICE. Let’s share with one another and smash this stigma!!!