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April 20, 2024
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Dr Aishatu Yusha’u-Armiya’u, Medical Director, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Kaduna

Medical expert wants mainstreaming of mental health into electoral process

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By Diana Omueza

Dr Aishatu Yusha’u-Armiya’u, the Medical Director of the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Kaduna, has called for the mainstreaming of mental health and psycho-social support into the Nigeria’s electoral process.

Yusha’u-Armiya’u said this at a national dialogue on election security management in Nigeria, organised by Cleen Foundation in Abuja.

She said that attention must be given to the manifestation and consequences imposed on the mental health of citizens from the backlash of hate speech and psychic injury caused before, during and after elections.

“Voters’ behaviour in the context of the resort to hate speech and violence, constitutes a major security challenge for Nigeria, which requires a holistic response.

“The government and major stakeholders must leverage the expertise of physicians whose primary duties include the management and treatment of traumatised people.

“The link between hate speech and the psychic injury on voters is a major factor influencing voters behavior before elections and acceptance of election outcome which cannot be undermined,” she said.

She said there was a need to evaluate voters’ mindsets and behaviours before and after elections to counter post-election differences and enhance citizens’ acceptance of election outcomes.

Yusha’u-Armiya’u said that once there was a negative mindset due to the impact of hate speech, it would be difficult to change the people’s perception on a particular issue.

“A lot of positive things are going on in the country now, but majorly the negative things have been seen more than the positive, because of the faultline in the minds of people.

“If people already have a mindset that one zone , one group or one religion will not do well in power, no matter the outcome of an election they will only see the negative and the consequences,” she said.

She said that there was a need to look at security not only from the angle of policing, defense, human right and others, but security from the health index, especially mental health aspect.

She advised the government to allow free flow of information and the media to intensify efforts in countering fake news and misinformation which were a major factor enhancing negative biases.

She also urged Nigerians to build their resilience on positive thinking and refrain from analyzing the country’s progress using sentiments and biases of religion and ethnicity. (NAN)

Philip Daniel Yatai

Principal Correspondent, NAN Abuja
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