JOY: THE KEY TO STAYING ‘FOREVER YOUNG’

Have you ever looked at an elderly person prancing across the street, without a care in the world, and thought, “I want to be like that when I become elderly”? Do you desire to live a worry-free life, but the feeling of shouldering the burdens of the over 7 billion people in the universe makes that dream seem unattainable? If this sounds like you, you are not alone.

The plights and burdens that people face regularly have made joy and well-being in Nigeria a matter of utmost importance. These plights, which would be laughable if they were not so pathetic, have decreased the zest for life that many people have. In fact, it is not uncommon to meet someone with a ‘what-good-is-life’ outlook these days. Perhaps, if these conditions were not so persistent and prevalent, joy and well-being in Nigeria will not be such a concern. But with Nigeria having the highest suicide rate in Africa, the average Nigerian’s joy and well-being cannot be overlooked. For this reason, organisations like Joy Inc, whose mission is to enable people and organisations to flourish and stay centred, are needed.

It’s commonly said that “Nigerians are happy people.” The prevalence of comedy skits, comedy shows and the increased popularities of comedians is proof. In addition to this, Nigeria was given an impressive 77 points in a 53-Country Gallup Poll on optimism. However, how much can an optimistic nation take if joy and well-being in Nigeria don’t take a front seat in the hall of priorities?

It will be comforting to see more Nigerians give more thought to joy and well-being in the not so distant future. After all, being joyful has been shown to boost the immune system, reduce pain, combat stress, protect the heart and increase life expectancy. Meaning, years from now, you can be that elderly person, staying forever young, prancing across the street without a care in the world.


3 TV Shows on mental health that are leading the conversation

In the past, the subject of mental health and how it impacts millions of people worldwide was nearly never spoken of, especially not in the media. Unlike physical ailments, which can be explained, understood and sympathised over, the stigma around anxiety and depression made it more difficult for people to open up.

With the media creating awareness through TV shows that focus on telling fictional and true stories of real people, many are finally understanding the importance of mental health. Here are 3 mental health TV shows leading the conversation.

  1. You are the worst

‘You are the Worst’ documents Gretchen and Jimmy’s often chaotic relationship – from the moment they meet till their wedding day. In Season 2, the show introduced its audience to Gretchen’s struggles with depression. She succumbed to a depressive episode, leaving Jimmy clueless about how to bring her out of it – a tale many living with those who struggle with their mental health know all too well. We see Gretchen largely unenthusiastic, laying around the house and staring aimlessly into nothing. Gretchen’s story hit home for many people across the globe as many people have at one time in their lives gone through it without speaking about it.

2. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The show tells the story of a woman in love who moves across the country to West Covina, California, to win over her childhood crush, Josh. However, in the course of the series, Rebecca is diagnosed with bipolar disorder – a symptom of mental illness that is rarely addressed by the media. What is more refreshing to see is Rebecca’s next line of action – regularly attending therapy – after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Through this show, many suffering from one variety of mental illnesses or another will be more comfortable doing what is best for them by seeking professional help.

3. #WithChude

#WithChude is a mental health TV show that leverages the voice, networks and passions of its host, Chude Jideonwo to underline social issues, raise awareness about matters that affect our mental health and spark social movements. Focused on narratives that enable and strengthen the mind, heart and spirit, it has been at the frontline of movements around sexual abuse, depression, mental health, HIV/AIDs, inclusivity and diversity.

While some of these stories portrayed through movies and documentary-series are fictional, they are a reflection of what real people go through every day – silently or openly.

As the world slowly opens up more conversations on mental health challenges, the media – just as it did with minimising the stigma around AIDS – can continue to push the discussion by creating even more mental health TV shows that explore the importance of mental health and the signs of its disorders.


How mental health Podcasts are aiding mental health awareness

Mental health disorders are one of the most common yet less spoken of health crises plaguing millions of people worldwide. With people becoming increasingly disconnected from one another, struggling with identity crises, and unable to handle adverse situations in a seemingly fast-paced world, mental health has become one of the world’s most popular topics.

Several individuals who have been through a mental health crisis have been creating awareness and opening up recently to the public about their struggles in the hopes that others will be encouraged to seek help. They have achieved this by openly documenting their struggles with the use of social media and other new-age platforms like podcasts, TV shows, documentary series etc., with celebrities and high-status individuals leading the conversation.

Due to the demand for more detailed and precise information on the struggles, symptoms, and treatments of diverse mental health issues, there is an increasing need for data-backed information on what it entails to live with mental illness. The media has been a useful tool for this purpose.

The media is known to exert one of the most powerful influences on individuals as most people draw their definitions about life from what they watch and read consistently. Statistics show that many people spend at least 8 hours on television and social media every day.

Among other media platforms, mental health podcasts and TV shows are two popular media sources used to create awareness about mental health. From depression to addiction, anxiety, and trauma, people have come out to share their experiences and connect deeply with others who are going through the same. What makes this so effective is the sharing of both factual information and real-life experiences. Generally, it is known that people listen more when they sense a person truly understand what they are going through. Individuals have created mental health podcasts to suit audio listeners, taking a peaceful, serene tone and approach synonymous with a traditional therapy session.

One factor that makes podcasts an attractive platform is that it creates an intimate feeling for most people. People have reported feeling like the hosts are talking to them done, and that special feeling has a profound effect on how they respond to whatever situation is being addressed. Mental health podcasts help most individuals feel like they are not alone, and they give them the strength to push through, through open and honest conversations.

Therefore, it is certain that while these podcasts cannot necessarily solve mental health issues, as medical cure is still needed – therapy, meditation, and medication – they will start meaningful conversations with people, which is a step in the right direction.


Exploring Happiness Research in Nigeria

In our world today, it is not unusual to hear of depression and its effects. Statistics have shown that millions of people worldwide experience depression daily due to various circumstances in their lives. In Nigeria alone, the WHO states that over 7 million individuals are depressed.

In a bid to curb depression and help individuals experience a more positive outlook, researchers from diverse fields are constantly carrying out studies to understand what makes individuals happy and how happiness influences the world around them. This interest has given rise to the field of happiness research.

Happiness research is a field of study focused on the well-being of individuals and societies and the consistency of positive emotions they experience, and the degree to which they are satisfied in life. It also explores how individuals view adverse circumstances with a positive lens and recover quickly from them. In a world where depression cases rise daily, happiness research has been a welcome development to help individuals experience increasing states of happiness.

Happiness research has been shown to influence physical health, emotions and mental health positively. Happiness studies are undertaken to understand what factors are responsible for the consistent happiness people experience. So far, many fields such as psychology, sociology, and philosophy have drawn from the study’s evolving results to aid the lifestyle of more individuals.

In Nigeria, research has shown that individuals express a high state of happiness despite the socio-economic challenges they face. Although these results are encouraging, more work is still being carried out to further increase the level of happiness individuals and societies experience.

Organisations such as Joy Inc. have devoted themselves to ensuring that more individuals, schools, organisations and the nation at large experience greater levels of happiness. They are constantly involved in exploring happiness research in Nigeria as well as Africa at large. With increasing interest in happiness studies in Nigeria, the nation has a higher chance of social and economic transformation as happy people translate to happy organisations and, ultimately, a happy nation.

From results so far, happiness research in Nigeria has the potential to help individuals live cheerfully, create joyful atmospheres in schools and workplaces and promote a serene, compassionate atmosphere within the entire nation.


Four steps to building good emotional health

While emotional health and mental health have been used interchangeably, they do not imply the same thing. Licensed psychologist, Juli Fraga PsyD, says emotional health “focuses on being in tune with our emotions, vulnerability and authenticity.” A good emotional health fosters resilience, self-awareness and overall contentment.

While maintaining your emotional health in Nigeria can seem like an impossible task, it is achievable. It does not mean that you are constantly happy or free from negative emotions, as the environment will always have its challenges. However, it is about having the emotional intelligent skills and resources to manage the ups and downs that come with living in Nigeria.

Here are four steps to building a good emotional health in Nigeria:

Notice upsetting emotions when they arise

Taking note of when your emotions start to become disconcerting helps us to process them in healthy ways. For example, when hurt or angered by someone, instead of avoiding and letting it brew for so long, noticing and putting a tag on the emotions birthed from that experience will help you to either compassionately confront the person or set some healthy boundaries with that person. The opposite of that is lashing out at them, which will only further escalate the conflict.

Be curious about how you feel.

Maintaining a good emotional health in Nigeria seems difficult because there is not enough advocacy to be curious about your thoughts and feelings. Emotional health flourishes when you are curious about your thoughts, behaviours, reactions and feelings, and why they might arise at certain times.

It is important to ask yourself, “Why do I react this way?” or “What is it about my past that might lead me to have a strong reaction to a, b and c?”

Practice regularising your emotions

Emotions have the power to get the best of us, with every corner laced with potential off setters. However, learning coping strategies can help us temper them and cause us to respond rather than react to upsetting situations.

These strategies include

  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Listening to music.
  • Talking to a therapist.

Do not compromise on quality sleep.

The lack of quality sleep has been a major contributing factor to poor emotional health in Nigeria. Sacrificing sleep makes one more vulnerable to stress and anxiety. A 2018 study found that being sleep-deprived leads to more repetitive negative thoughts. Being overly tired can make you more emotionally reactive, which can negatively affect your outlook, performance and relationships. Having a consistent sleeping and waking up time can make all the difference between reactive and responsive behaviours.

Good emotional health is crucial to your overall well-being. If you have noticed your thoughts and emotions negatively affecting your performance, relationships and outlook to life, taking care of your core needs – like sleeping, talking about those feelings, and meditation – can significantly improve your emotional health.


Depression in Nigeria: Five facts every Nigerian should know

Depression is a mental health disorder characterised by a persistent loss of interest in activities, decreased energy, feeling of guilt or low self-worth, and poor concentration. This disorder, which currently affects over 322 million people globally, significantly impairs an individual’s ability to carry out everyday tasks and responsibilities, and could lead to suicide if not treated.

As life threatening as this disease is, it is unfortunate that conversations on depression in Nigeria are only topics of webinars and conferences organised by NGOs. To raise awareness on this serious health crisis affecting millions of Nigerians, here are five facts every Nigerian should know about depression.

  1. Depression in Nigeria is more common than we think

Depression is currently a major public health crisis with 7 million Nigerians suffering from it. Studies have shown that it is a very common occurrence amongst people faced with social adversities. A recent study has shown that a more significant prevalence of depression in Nigeria falls among young adults, elderly and IDPs at 25%, 26.2% and 17%, respectively. Other studies conducted among patients with chronic illnesses like stroke, leprosy and epilepsy have reported a high percentage of 27.5% to 46%.

2. Gender disproportions exist in occurrences of depression

As common as depression is globally, there is a disproportionate prevalence among genders. According to the WHO, females are 50% more prone to depression than males. Studies have shown that being female is a significant risk factor for depression in Nigeria.

This gap comes as no surprise as low socio-economic status and intimate partner violence have been reported as an important risk factor for depression. In Nigeria, over 50% of women are illiterates, and not in the labour force, and 28% and 7% of females reported experiencing physical and sexual violence in their lifetime, respectively. Many new mothers also suffer from postpartum depression, with a prevalence of 14% to 20% among new mothers in Nigeria.

3. Depressed people usually do not get help

For several reasons, many who are depressed do not usually get the help they need, despite the availability of evidence-based treatment. Some of these reasons could be the feeling of shame, stigma and discrimination – imagined and factual. More so, many Nigerians lack awareness about mental health and the availability of mental health services. 

4. Fighting depression in Nigeria is challenging

With the country’s high poverty rate and the difficulties faced by Nigerians every day, depression in Nigeria will likely continue to increase. The culture, which promotes mental health victims’ stigmatisation, will be another issue to be addressed. Furthermore, the lack of efficient and sufficient mental health services in some parts of the country is another challenge Nigerians will have to face when dealing with the issues.

A study reported that a majority of health practitioners in a health care centre in Benin City have limited knowledge of depression, with 78% of them facing difficulties in working with patients suffering from depression.

5. We all have a part to play in fighting depression

Mental health services are essential and integral parts of primary health care, and they should be universally accessible. More Nigerians should be encouraged to take up psychology and psychotherapy in universities to have more mental health practitioners in the country that meet the needs of the ever-growing number of people who will need to be treated.

It is also important that every Nigerian ensures that they are not a part of the problem by shaming victims of depression. This can only be done if the educational system is more open to educating everyone at every level on the dangers of depression and other mental health disorders.

The first step in tackling these issues is raising awareness by openly talking about it. Be a part of this conversation in your community today and help create awareness on depression in Nigeria.


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