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Perspectives About Mental Health, Mental Illness and Its Management In Nigeria

Dr. Suleiman T. F
Head, Clinical Psychology
Lagos University Teaching Hospital
Idi-Araba Lagos



Mental health is a state of mental wellbeing that enables people to cope with the stress of life, realize their abilities,learn well and work well, and contribute to their community (WHO, 2022). Generally, mental health is an integral component of health and wellbeing that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationship and shape the environment we live in.

Mental health includes our emotional, physical and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate with others in the society. Mental health is important at every stage of life from childhood through adulthood.

The term mental health refers to a person’s positive behavioral and emotional wellbeing. It affects how people react to stressors; engage with others in the society.



  • Emotional wellbeing: The individuals concerned must have the capacity to live a full and creative life, and the flexibility to deal with life’s inevitable challenges (i.e ability to withstand any stressful life condition).
  • Independence of decision: People with sound mental health must be able to think independently rather than rely on others to take decision on their behalf.
  • Perception of reality without distortion: The individual concerned must be able to reason along with others without any perceptual distortion.
  • Ability to love and be loved: An individual acclaimed to be normal must be able to understand the feeling of others (i.e, do to others what you will like them to do on to you).
  • Self actualization: People with good mental health should aspire to be what they want to become in life (i.e, the goals set by an individual must be pursued vigorously for better achievement).
  • Self awareness: An individual must be able to develop self awareness within one’s self and his or her environment (i.e, individual should be able to know his or her self, know his abilities and accepts what he cannot do).
  • Mental ability: Normal individual must have a good sense of judgement (i.e, ability to use his or her mental ability efficiently).
  • An ideal person must be able to function optimally in his or her occupation and other daily activities.
  • An individual with sound mind must be able to interact meaningfully in the society (i.e, there should be no social impairment).
  • An ideal individual must be able to appraise luck and misfortune objectively.



It is very good for an individual to exhibit behavioural characteristics that will enhance good mental health in a given society. The factors include the following:

  • Personal hygiene: Individual must be able to take care of his or her personal hygiene (i.e, ability to take care of oneself like brush one’s mouth, bathing, maintaining good hair cut, cutting finger nails and washing of clothes).
  • Environmental hygiene: Normal individual must be able to take care of his or her environment to avoid any form of diseases that could occur as a result of poor environmental conditions.
  • Good nutritional habit: In order to maintain good healthy living, an individual should maintain good healthy living, an individual should maintain good eating habit not garbage. It is important for an individual to eat balanced diet in order to maintain good healthy living and avoid any form of out-break of diseases.
  • Maintenance of good job: Normal individual must have the ability to maintain suitable job (i.e, frequent change of good job may be an indication of poor mental health.
  • The choice of friends is a very important factor that could determine effective mental health. Normal individual must be able to maintain good friends.(i.e, abilities to identify oneself with good and responsible people in the society and not bad friends).
  • Religious affiliation: Normal individuals must be able to identify his or her self with one religious group in the society.(i.e, ability to associate oneself with supernatural being that take good care and provides for the need of everybody).
  • Good sexual habit is an indication of sound mind: Normal individual should not involve his or her self in a risky sexual behaviour that could lead to sexually transmitted diseases like STDs or HIV.
  • The use of psycho-active substances should be avoided. It is evidenced that the use of substances like cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and alcohol could lead to mental illness and it should be avoided in totality.
  • Ability to accept whatever stressful condition that comes your way (i.e, an individual should be able to cope with any life events that come his or her ways in life).
  • Recognize early warning signs of psychological disorder: An individual should recognize early warning signs of mental illness hence prompt remediation.
  • Form the habit of frequent medical check-up. Normal individual should be concerned about their mental health condition for prompt and early intervention.
  • Learn to accept what you cannot change in life. Ability to accept whatever comes your way will go a long way to boost your good mental health.



  • Value yourself.
  • Take care of yourself physically like good meals, avoid substance use, take plenty of water and engage in physical exercises.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Surround yourself with good people.
  • Give yourself enough rest.
  • Learn how to deal with stress.
  • Quiet your mind i.e. meditating, mindfulness or prayer.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Break up the monotony.
  • Avoid any form of substance abuse.
  • Get help when you need it.


Mental illness or mental health conditions, refer to a wide range of mental health conditions, disorders that affects your mood, thinking and behavior. example of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive disorders, people experiences mental health conditions from time to time but it becomes a problem when the symptoms causes frequent stresses and affect one’s ability to functions in one’s area of endeavour.


  • Feeling guilty and worthless.
  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate.
  • Excessive worries or fear.
  • Extreme mood changes of high and low.
  • Significant tiredness or low energy or poor sleep.
  • Inability to cope in daily problems or stress.
  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations or people.
  • Problems in alcohol or drug use.
  • Major changes in eating habit.
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence.
  • Suicide thinking.
  • Restlessness and difficulties in concentrating.


  • Inherited traits.
  • Environmental exposure before birth like the use of drugs during pregnancy.
  • Brain chemistry (i.e. chemical impairment during brain development).
  • Stressful life conditions (i.e. financial problems or divorce).
  • Falling with head injuries or accident.
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes and other medical conditions.
  • Traumatic experiences like military combat or assault.
  • Use of substances like cannabis or other substances.
  • Childhood history of abuse or neglect.
  • Poor interpersonal relationship.
  • Previous mental illness.


  • It decreases enjoyment of life.
  • Family conflicts.
  • Relationship difficulties.
  • Social isolation.
  • Problems with substance use.
  • Missed works, schools or other occupation related task.
  • Poverty or homelessness.
  • Legal or financial problems.
  • Self-harm and harm to others including suicide or homicide.
  • Weakened immune system as their body system has a hard time resisting infections.
  • Heart disease or other medical conditions.


  • Pay attention to warning signs.
  • Get routine medical check-ups.
  • Get help when you need it.
  • Take good care of yourself.
  • Avoid any form of head injuries.
  • Take good care of your personal and environment hygiene.
  • Learn to manage your stress effectively.
  • Talk to people about your worries.
  • Avoid the use of any form of substances.
  • Mental health hygiene should be taken very seriously.


  • Medication: The use of medication is very important for severe cases of mental illness. Medication are prescribed by trained psychiatrist.
  • Psychotherapy: It is the therapeutic treatment of mental illness by a trained clinical psychologist (i.e cognitive behavioural therapy, supportive psychotherapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, behavioural therapy etc).
  • Hospitalization is required for severe cases of mental illness.
  • Self help group plan for substance abuse or other psychiatric conditions.
  • Regular exercise is very important.
  • Proper nutrition is very important.
  • Pay attention to one’s spiritual life is also important.
  • Talk about your worries to people that can help.
  • Community support services is important.
  • Peer support.
  • Get regular exercise (i.e 30minutes of walking everyday can boost your mood and improve your physical and mental health).
  • Make sleep a priority.
  • Set realistic goal for yourself and priorities.
  • Focus on positivity of life.
  • Learn to understand and manage your feelings.


N:B: The author is a clinical/counselling psychologist. He is also an expert in genetic counselling, a drug and mental health rehabilitation specialist at the above hospital. He can be reached at suleiman.folorunsho@yahoo.com


  1. Comprehensive Mental Health (WHO, 2022) www.who.int>….>fact sheets>Detail…..Accessed on 24th April 2024.
  2. Holmes L (2023) Mental Health: Meaning, Characteristics, Management. www.very well mind.com/what-is-mental…… Accessed on 4th May 2024.
  3. Andrews L,Yudofsky SC,Gibson (2024) Mental Disorder.Encyclopedia, Britannia. www.britannia.com>science>mental….. Accessed on 7th May 2024.
  4. America Psychiatric Association (2024) what is Mental Illness. www.psychiatry.org/patient–families– Accessed 6th May 2024.

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