1 in 5 Nigerian workers have mental health challenge – Psychiatrist

One out of every five workers in Nigeria has one form of mental health challenge or the other, a Consultant Psychiatrist at the  Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH),  Dr Erinfolami Adebayo Rasheed has said.

Speaking at an event to mark the World Mental Health Day organized by the department of Psychiatry, LUTH/College of Medicine of the University of Lagos recently, Dr. Rasheed, who is also a senior lecturer at the department,  urged both employers and employees, to be a bit more sensitive with each in the work place saying if the work environment is not conducive or adaptive to workers,  mental health challenge could manifest in the course of work.

Speaking to newsmen, Dr Rasheed said: “We are here to increase the awareness, to promote the mental health issues among our people. The essence of our gathering here is to promote good mental health among workers in different spheres of life so that people with mental health challenge can be identified early and referred for therapy.”

Apart from poor working environment, he said mental issues could arise if workers are not getting what they deserve at work .

“Also, if the relationship between workers is not smooth enough; if the target set by the employers is too much of a stressful target, of course they will have mental health challenge.

“When these things are happening, it is nice for the fellow workers to know immediately that, ‘yes, there is a sharp difference from this individual in this current picture that needs to be referred for help,’” he said.

The Psychiatrist also advised that work places should have period to relax, allow their staff to go on leave, allow workers to interact well and set reasonable targets so that when stress is less, workers won’t break down and when they break down, there are places they can seek for help.

In the same vein, another psychiatrist, a Child and  Adolescent Psychiatry expert, also in LUTH, Dr Yewande Oshodi, said this year’s theme is apt because at the end of the day, the employers of labour want to be successful.

“If the workers who work for them are not healthy mentally or physically,  it will affect  productivity.  An employee’s mental health can be influenced by work place and by what is going on at home. So as employers, we have to check all these things and be sure that environment is conducive; the work setting is conducive so that the employee can give the best.

“At times the employees also are going through other things as well. They may have a sick child or a sick family members; something that is giving them concern, anxiety, depression. An employer should be concerned,” she opined.

In line with others, Dr Kehinde Sodimu, also a Consultant Psychiatrist in LUTH submitted that even in an apparently normal work place, people there might be going through some psychological stress that is affecting them in reducing their overall productivity.

“One of our goals today is to encourage employers to watch out for the employees. If anybody is working beneath you,  try to be considerate and look out for psychological well being of your client or the person working for you,” she said.

Dr Sodimu lamented that stigmatization is still a big challenge. “People tend to shy away from coming to seek help and we’ve noticed that more people are coming down with psychological disorders because of their work environment;  the criteria they have to work with.  So we identify that and we are using this medium to address all that,” she said.

She also stressed the need for individuals to seek professional help when  going through such challenges.

“What is paramount is that you can get help. We, as a team in the department of Psychiatry, LUTH/College of Medicine of the University of Lagos are here and we want to support people and help them negotiate any stress they might be having. Dr Sodimu  stressed.

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