Mental Health: CMD tasks public, health workers on healthy living

Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital Yaba, Lagos.
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By Lilian U. Okoro

Dr Olugbenga Owoeye, Chief Medical Director, Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, has enjoined health workers and the public to prioritise their health by adopting healthy lifestyles and diets that guaranteed overall wellbeing.

Represented by Dr Stephen Oluwaniyi, Head, Clinical Services of the hospital, Owoeye, gave the advice at a lecture organised in commemoration of the 2024 Mental Health Awareness Week on Wednesday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Mental Health Awareness Week, which has the theme: “Movement: Moving More for Our Mental Health” aims to promote awareness about mental health.

Owoeye cautioned against living sedentary lifestyles, saying that engaging in activities that promote mental, physical and social health was paramount.

According to him, overall wellbeing is ensured when the three aspects of health – mental, physical and social health are maintained.

He identified regular physical activity as an effective strategy for preserving mental health.

He said that regular daily exercise helps to reduce stress, saying that this could include walking, as well as other more intensive exercises.

According to him, stress is reduced and mood is elevated when endorphins are released through exercise.

He explained that whether it was reading, listening to music or engaging in mindfulness exercises, making time for relaxation and stress-relieving activities are equally vital.

“Another effective strategy for preserving mental health is regular physical activity.

“When one engages in physical exercise, there are some feel good hormones that are released into the system; which makes you feel generally good and boost your confidence among other benefits.

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“So, as we pay attention to physical health, we improves mental health at the same time.

“Sitting at a place; sedentary lifestyles which are responsible for a lot medical conditions like diabetics, obesity, hypertension and heart problems will not help both physically and mentally,” he said.

According to him, the mental health awareness week is a weeklong programme set apart to create awareness about mental health.

He said, “The essence of the programme is to bring attention to the connection between body and mind. The old adage goes ” a sound mind in a sound body”.

“Now, we are all interested in being healthy mentally; but that cannot happen if we do pay attention to our physical health.

“So, earlier today, we had an aerobic session where members of staff were engaged in series of exercises aimed at promoting physical and mental health.

Dr Olufunmilayo Akinola, a consultant psychiatrist with the hospital, said people should be conscious of their health, life and emotion.

Akinola, also the Presenter at the programme, spoke on the topic:  “Balanced Mental Health in an Unbalanced World”.

She advised people in the caring profession, particularly health workers, to always ensure they took care of their health to be able to take care of others.

“Be mindful of your life and environment at any point in time and deal with issues that are going on.

“Whatever we believe, none of us can avoid the fact that our world is undergoing a particular unbalanced period.

“Nobody is left out and this makes it hard for us to stay balanced in our own lives.

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“So, do intentional living; if you’re tired, take a break, engage in activities that give you joy and try as much as possible to avoid stress and anxiety,” she said.

Speaking, a Nutritionist, Mrs Opewole Simisola, said there was need for people to cultivate healthy eating habits at workplace.

She advised Nigerians, particularly health workers to eat adequate balanced diet to live healthy, saying that adequate diet can prevent some range of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

According to her, appropriate balanced diet is key to prevention and management of diabetes, obesity, hypertension among others.

She said it was not difficult to eat balanced diet, adding that all that was required was the knowledge of what to eat at a particular time and right proportion.

Simisola emphasised the need for people not to skip meals particularly breakfast, saying that if one must skip any meal, it has to be dinner.

She said: “It is easy to eat adequate balance diet. All that is required is to pick at least a food item from the different food groups in adequate proportion in a meal.

“The food groups are roots, tubers and legumes, vegetables, fruits and meat, fish, poultry, milk, as well as fats and oil.

“We should include vegetables and fruits in our daily diets to increase our nutrients”.

Edited by Vivian Ihechu

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