In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that a compassionate Nigerian rescued an insane young lady from the Abuja streets recently and admitted her to a hospital; while the Nigerian winks that many of the lady’s ilks are abandoned to their fate in the streets
If not for Dr. Ray Ugba Morphy, a media expert from Cross River State based in Abuja, the anonymous insane lady in her middle 20s would have wandered the streets of Abuja without succour coming her way, at least soon. On November 28, 2016, by 5pm, at the ECOWAS building, Asokoro, Abuja, Morphy saw the scintillating beauty laced in ebony black, walking and talking to herself, and decided to help her.
In a disclosure to this writer, Morphy was compassionately curious to know what was the matter with the lady who was actually dirty, but not in shreds, with a look suggesting that she needed help, but was not articulated to seek for the help that was written on her face.
“In the girl, I saw a soul crying for help. She could be my sister, your sister or even anyone’s daughter. So I approached her. She spoke well, an evidence of good breeding. But, then, after being initially friendly, she became very hostile when I began to probe her,” Morphy narrated.
Morphy’s objective to approach the lady was borne out of his humanitarian gesture to save the downtrodden in the society. He was eager to know if he could reach out to the lady’s people, but the lady had loss of memory of who her people were or where she was coming from. When Morphy prodded her further, he could not get a tangible result. “All she would say is that she is from London and her name is Chika,” the puzzled Morphy said.
When he could not gain the records of her, he decided to leave her alone, because it was already late. The following the day, Morphy who had great enthusiasm to save the lady, sent out his team of workers to the Asokoro to look out for the lady while he went online to surf for best psychiatric hospitals.
“As my workers went in search for her in the street, I went online in search of a psychiatric hospital or unit. Luckily after physical visits to all government hospitals in Abuja, we finally found one at Karu,” the bemused Morphy said, adding that it took his workers up till 4pm before they found the lady, a journey they started in the morning.
“Meanwhile those searching the streets for her could only locate her at about 4pm in the evening being that she is mobile and ambulatory,” the baffled Morphy said. “To cut a long story short, I can now report that the lady is now safely admitted in a psychiatric hospital with me registered as her next of kin.”
Morphy showed the lady’s picture and was stunned that the gorgeous lady would have wasted in the street from a treatable mental health she had. “She is simply suffering from treatable mental illness and no one should be abandoned the way our society seems to abandon the mentally ill. Sure, it cost me time and money, but it is worth every bit of it,” the fulfilled Morphy said.
Contact with her family
Dr. Morphy did not just relax after signing as next-of-kin for the lady; he was bent on making sure that the family of the lady was located. On December 1, 2016, Morphy whispered that the lady’s mother was contacted, but she lives outside Abuja and was expected to arrive Abuja as soon as possible.
“It was the wide sharing of the lady’s picture on the social media that enabled someone to see the picture and then reached her mother,” Morphy informed. “However, she will be handed over to her people only when the doctors certify her fit.”
Many youths getting insane
The lady is one among millions of Nigerians, youths especially, suffering from mental illnesses that are abandoned in the streets. They go uncared for, drink and eat from dirt. Some are tagged witches and wizards and what not.
During the 2015 World Mental Health Day celebration in Rivers State, mental health specialists at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Chidozie Chukujeku and Dr. Nkpobu Kennedy raised eyebrows at the rate with which young people were going insane.
Some professionals are worried that many of the youths are into drugs especially those of the tertiary institute. Yakubu Kibo, a senior personnel fighting against illicit trade and use of drugs said, “Our records show that most of the mentally-ill persons in the state are young people who happen to be involved in abuse of illicit drugs.”
Some authorities feared that some youths involve in terrorism activities like suicide bombing due to the imbalance state of their mental. “75% of suicides occur in low and middle-income countries. Mental disorders and harmful use of alcohol contribute to many suicides around the world,” said a source.
Beliefs associated to mental health
Medical specialists are perplexed about the misunderstandings and stigmas attached to mental ill health in the country. “Despite the existence of effective treatments for mental disorders, there is a belief that they are untreatable or that people with mental disorders are difficult, not intelligent, or incapable of making decisions,” said a source.
The source added, “This stigma can lead to abuse, rejection and isolation and exclude people from healthcare or support. Within the health system, people are too often treated in institutions which resemble human warehouses rather than places of healing.”
In 2015, Medical Director of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital (FNH), Yaba, Lagos, Rahman Lawal showed apprehension that 21 million Nigerians suffered from mental illnesses, among whom were youths. Prof. Oye Guruje, a psychiatrist with University of Ibadan, in a public presentation said that insanity outweighs the HIV/AIDs encumbrance.
“Mental illness is one of the major contributors to disease burden globally. It is the sixth largest burden worldwide and this is much more burdensome than HIV. In Nigeria, one out of seven persons will have serious mental illnesses, while one in four persons will have some form of mental disorder. And this is a conservative estimate,” Guruje said.
Factors contributing to insanity
Checks, however, revealed that while some of the youths are taken to the hospitals, the medical experts are paid peanuts for their services by the government. They do not even receive the peanuts for months.
Evidence is that many of the youths do not take such drugs like codeine, tramadol, cocaine, hashish and others before they go berserk, but work pressure. This was found in a research conducted by connoisseurs.
“The majority of 18-year-olds we spoke to were endeavouring to find jobs and committed to the idea of work, although they are perhaps hampered by a lack of skills that would serve them well in the job market.
“Compared to their peers, NEET young people are also contending with substantial mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and aggression control,” said Professor Terrie Moffitt, co-author of the study from the IoPPN at King’s College London.
Out of the conundrum
There was a decision by psychiatric nurses in the country begging the National Assembly to pass Mental Health Bill. The Association of Psychiatric Nurses of Nigeria, Neuropsychiatric Hospital unit, Aro in Abeokuta, on October 10, 2016, said this through a mental health activist and consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Oluseun Ogunnubi at a seminar organised by the association to memorialise the 2016 World Mental Health Day in Abeokuta.
Dr. Oyewole Adeoye, the National Coordinator of Mental Health Awareness Foundation of Nigeria, thought that mental health policies should help to arrest the challenging situation. “There is an increased incidence of mental illnesses in Nigeria and the society is yet to take full control of the fact. Mental disorder is associated with societal vices, socio-economic pressures, emotional problems and political injustice like terrorism, said Adeoye.
Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. E-mail: [email protected]