Me: “Hello Bra Odartey”
Bra Odartey: “Hello Ato, t3 Oy)) t33n?” (Hello Ato, how are you)
Me: “Ofaine e y3 jogbaan” (I am doing fine)
Friend: “Did you just do that”
Me: “Do what” *wondering *
Friend: “Greet a mad man”
Me: *smile* “He isn’t mad, he only has a mental health problem, that’s all, and if we keep treating and tagging him a ‘mad man’ we will end up having him as one”.
Few days on I spotted an “Information about mental health” booklet by “The Kintampo Project” at the UNICEF Ghana Country Office, it brought back fond memories, when Mind Freedom Ghana engaged media professionals in a two day training workshop to ensure we were well built to capacity in spreading the word. Indeed many people find mental health puzzling and misunderstand the issue, it’s not just a Ghana thing, all across the globe- people who have little or no knowledge on the matter are likely to stigmatize and treat people with mental disorders badly.
According to information gathered, good mental health is when one can think clearly, solve problems, enjoy happy relationships and feel spiritually at ease. A mental illness or ‘mental disorder’ or ‘psychological disorder’ is when one behaves abnormally and one or others are upset by the behavior. When one is mentally ill, he/she changes and it’s often strange and hard to understand. Kindly note that schizophrenia, severe depression, manic depression, dementia, alcoholism, serious drug abuse, bad anxiety all qualify for mental illness- yes they do!
Mental illness, which is very common is mostly caused by chemical imbalances in the brain which can be due to: using illegal drugs such as cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine, heroin etc. also drinking much alcohol, serious head injuries can cause mental illness, serious head injuries and any big stress. So there is no known exact cause and nature of people’s mental illness is often unclear. I know few people who have recovered from a mental disorder- I can relate, it can be upsetting, common to be ashamed, angry, and at times guilty and frightened. Talking about the problem and taking needed steps can help ameliorate the situation and stay better.
If you are thinking metal health is infectious, you got that wrong- it’s no cough or flu. Again, everyone can be affected- children, men, youth, and women. But we need to have access to good mental health services, we might need them one day! Truth is, most people with mental illness can be helped, and my friend and mental health professional Mr. Odonkor (Kobby Blay) demonstrated it.
How can you keep yourself mentally healthy?
- Eat healthy diet and don’t drink too much alcohol: it can protect you from feeling anxious and depressed.
- Do you smoke weed? It causes schizophrenia.
- Nothing does the trick like a good night sleep, it helps you feel better, improves memory and gets mind and body in shape and strong next day.
- Get a good laugh: it’s good for your mind and soul.
- Crying, lols- yes, you might feel terrible at the time but one feels better afterwards.
- Situation gets worse if you leave them, speak to someone worth trusting, family, friend or a professional.
- Make time for yourself and things you want to do and enjoy doing.
- Keep your relationships healthy: it makes you feel better so look after them.
- Exercise: it’s good for the heart and blood pressure.
If you want to support other people with mental illness, you can. How?
- Remember that mental illness is treatable and nobody’s fault.
- Let’s not shout at, criticize, threaten or stigmatize people with mental illness- it only worsens their plight or make them violent. Mental illness can’t be caught by touching someone who is mentally ill or sharing their food.
- We must keep our friends, be there to listen and talk to friends who are down and need us- they might help us when we need them too.
- Support the newly set Mental Health Board to implement the Mental Health Law.
Mental health is an integral part of health- I agree, there is no health without mental health. Let’s ensure mental health workers are supported and encouraged to continue their good work. Thank you”.