By Olasunkanmi Onifade
Dr. Tunde Ojo, a Consultant Psychiatrist, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, FCT, has called on relevant stakeholders to address mental illness as a public health issue.
Ojo made the appeal on Sunday in Abuja, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in commemoration of the National Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Awareness Day.
He said posttraumatic stress disorder should be taken seriously and be top of the list of Nigeria’s awareness creation campaigns.
NAN reports that the aim of the Day is to raise awareness on PTSD, a mental health problem that could develop after a person has been exposed to one or more traumatic events.
He listed traumatic events that might cause PTSD to include, physical or sexual assault, war-related combat stress, terrorism, natural or man-made disasters, and other threats on a person’s life.
“People should seek for treatment from the right sources; and we should all work together to address the problem of stigma that is associated with mental health problems.
“It is the greatest barrier to accessing care among people that are living with this problem,” Ojo said.
He said one of the major protective factors against PTSD was mental resilience, saying it had to do with the ability of the mind to withstand adversities such as trauma and many other stressful conditions.
According to Ojo, PTSD has lasting consequences of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness or horror.
He also gave examples of things that could bring on PTSD as the unexpected death of a loved one and accidents.
He explained that PTSD symptoms varied as one could be affected more if they felt stressed generally, or when they encountered a specific reminder about what happened.
“The goal of PTSD treatment is to reduce the emotional and physical symptoms, to improve daily functions, as well as to help the person better manage the event that triggered the disorder.
“Treatment for PTSD may involve psychotherapy (a type of counseling) medication or both,” he said.
Ojo, however, said research was ongoing into factors leading to PTSD and into finding new treatments.
He said some studies suggested that early intervention with people who had a trauma might reduce some of the symptoms of PTSD or prevent it all together.
Ojo therefore, advised the public against the use of medications without prescription, saying emotional or sleeping problems were very common with PTSD.
“Many resort to self medication and use of psychoactive substances like alcohol, cigarettes and other recreational drugs.
“It only worsens the situation in the long run. So final word is seek treatment early from the right source,” he said.
The mental health expert said there was need to teach children positive life skills, as well as create good and safe neighbourhoods for all class of persons.
“These and many more have been documented as having good impact on people’s mental health and reduces the risk of developing mental disorders later in life,” he said. (NAN)