Harsh Reality of Mental health taboos in Nigeria
Why Nigerian families lock up children and the mentally ill? A 2013 report by Nigeria's health ministry said at least 10% of the population had experienced common mental health disorders. Less than 10% of that number had access to the care they need, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). There are numerous cases in Nigeria in which children and mentally ill are after being locked up for many years by their families which is shocking and beamed a spotlight on both parental neglect and the lack of mental health provision. There have also been reports of children being treated violently while under the care of step-mothers or relatives, though everyone is not the same, there are many step-mothers who take very good care of their non-biological children. In a recent case, it was found that two children were rescued from a toilet, where they were allegedly locked up daily by their step-mother until she returned from work. This is obviously not right, human violation should be stopped. One must be aware of all the rights. Human rights are the basic rights and freedom to which everyone is entitled on the basis of their common humanity. There are many more brutal child maltreatment cases in Nigeria and across the world. The other situation in Nigeria is, some adults, said to be mentally ill, were found with iron chains around their ankles, and forced to eat, sleep and defecate within the same confined place. A 55-year-old man was found locked in a room without a door or window. One of his feet was attached to a large log with a metal bar. He had been locked up by his family for 30 years because he was mentally ill. In some communities, mental illness is seen as a taboo, and the mentally ill are referred to as "mad people", these people are forced to roam the streets in tattered clothes and eat from rubbish dumps. That’s what is happening in Nigeria. The number of people requiring treatment is not available, but with less than 300 psychiatrists in a country with a population of around 200 million, families often turn to traditional healing centers, and faith-based facilities, both Christian and Muslim. Most people don't even want to be seen entering psychiatric hospitals because of the myths and misconceptions around mental health. How can it be said that I have a mental illness because they have never accepted it as a form of illness? All we can do is make everyone aware of mental health problems. There should be no myths and misconceptions regarding mental health problems. Being Mentally ill is not a sign of weakness.
Writer - Antra Pandey
Editor - Priyam Kusundal
Graphics - Thea Sinsin