Dr Sa’adatu Adamu, Mental Health Counsellor and Founder-President of Secure-d-Future International Initiative. Dr Sa’adatu Adamu, Mental Health Counsellor and Founder-President of Secure-d-Future International Initiative.  (Dr. Saadatu Adamu media team.)

Rethinking mental health care for women in Africa.

Millions of women in the world today are living with or are suffering from mental health issues. Poor mental health affects both women and men but some disorders are more common in women. These include depression, anxiety, eating disorders and unstable relationships.

Sr Oluwakemi Akinleye fsp – Vatican City.

According to the SA国际传媒 Health Organization (WHO), mental health is an important and integral component of health and well-being, that shapes our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build and sustain good relationships and be creative for the good of society. Mental health is a basic human right which is essential for personal, community and socio-economic development.

Recent studies have shown that depression is currently 50% more prevalentnt in women and they are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety than men. A Women’s NGO, Health Assured Team’s report also states that one in five women, compared with one in eight men have a mental disorder. 53% of women who have mental health problems have also experienced some form of abuse.

Factors affecting women's mental health

Dr Sa’adatu Adamu, a mental health counsellor from Nigeria, recently spoke to SA国际传媒 from her long experience of working with victims of human trafficking, rape and various forms of abuse.

According to Dr Adamu, there are several factors that affect women's mental health. She highlights some of them as menopause, menstruation (premenstrual syndrome), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pressure created by multiple roles. Other factors include intimate partner violence, no peace issues, loneliness, policistic ovarian syndrome, infertility, pregnancy, unemployment, discrimination, overwork and negative life experiences.

Dr Adamu also outlined for SA国际传媒 some of the key indicators of good mental health. She made emphasis on the following, “being resilient to and good management of stress, flexibility, productive behaviour, self-confidence, ability to be loving, forgiving, understanding, empathetic, and to take care of oneself and others.”

Difference between mental health and mental Illness

When asked about the difference between mental health and mental illness, Dr Adamu first highlighted the fact that many people don't like to go to the hospital or see a professional because of the stigma attached to mental illness. In defining mental illness, she presented it as “a health condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling, behavior, or mood.” Such conditions may affect someone's ability to relate to others and function well each day, she said.

This simply means that if one has been dealing with depression for a long time and is not able to seek professional help, it moves from sadness to depression and begins to affect his or her daily activities, and all those around such a person. Therefore when mental illness is described as a condition, it is something that has been happening for so long, something that someone has been struggling with.

Instead, mental health has to do with one not being able to cope with stress, not being able to be productive and not being able to contribute to the growth of the society. If not taken care of, mental health can lead to mental illness.

How to keep a good mental health

It is important for every woman to pay attention to and take care of her mental health. Dr Sa’adatu Adamu advises women to know their personal boundaries and warning signs when in a stressful situation. Lack of self-awareness has contributed a lot to mental instability in many women. Therefore, it is necessary to understand and know oneself better, eat right and exercise daily, practice the art of journaling, keep healthy relationships, and not be ashamed to speak up and seek for help when all is not well in one’s life.

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26 March 2024, 15:41