Mental health in Nigeria
Mental health needs to be taken more seriously in Nigeria. Everything cannot be prayed away and you certainly don’t tell a child to “get over it” if he/she is going through some real life issues.
Before we know it, the summer break will be over (why do we call them summer breaks in Nigeria, anyway? It’s raining cats and dogs as I write this), and now will be a good time to start to transition them back to school life.
We know kids can be mean in school. We also know that some children may have learning disabilities. Whatever your child’s reason is for adamantly not wanting to return to school, now is the time to slowly start to bring it up and talk about it. Your child will open up to you if you’re understanding and non-judgemental.
During the start of the school year or in the course of the year, parents and other adults should meticulously watch out for the following in the children:
- The child is usually angry or sad after school
- The child adamantly does not want to go to school
- The child starts to regress – for instance, he/she might start to pee in bed
- The child lets you know that he/she has been bullied (common things children get bullied for include weight, financial status, appearance)
- The child starts to exhibit aggressive behaviour, eg. abuses siblings, vandalises property.
Children make mistakes. It’s normal to score low on a test once in a while. It is also okay for parents to ask questions and treat these as normal parenting concerns. Parents may also use appropriate measures to help their child make better choices and grades. In my case, in primary school, my parents got me a lesson teacher and it really helped me.
However, if a child continues to make the same mistakes over and over, it is possible that the child has a learning disability or mental health disorder. This is not the time to call your child an olodo.
Nigerian parents should also understand that flogging or punishing the child will not cure him/her of a disability. If a child is failing continuously, it is time to research and evaluate so that you would be able to figure out what the exact problem is.
If you had a child who was visually impaired, you wouldn’t punish him/her for not being able to see. So, why would you punish your dyslexic child?
Parents and adults must protect the kids around them. Parents need to be very proactive when dealing with issues like this. Do you think more can be done to help and protect our children? Tell us in the comments section below. You might be able to help someone.