Lesson 2: Core Mental Health Issues.

Lesson 2; Core Mental Health Issues.

Dr. Garba


Mental health is recently enjoying increased public awareness especially due to cluster of events hitting the newsstands and the social media. Frequently reported suicides especially by use of sniper or jumping off the bridge on 3rd mainland bridge are still fresh in our memories. Similarly, the outcry over the use of psychoactive substances especially codeine became quite worrisome. Besides the above sensational scenarios, a lot mental health issues are quite common and very frequently missed.

The stigma associated with mental health problems is also worthy of consideration as it determines to a large extent whether persons will seek help promptly or not.


Mental health encompasses all areas of psychological well-being. It involves the maintenance of a stable emotion, social, psychological and mood states while facing daily living challenges. This entails an ability to cope with the challenges of life without breaking down. One is able to be happy when the need arises, show sadness appropriately as well as other emotional tones like anger, jealousy, excitement, disappointment at the appropriate times and for the appropriate duration of time.

It also important to note that mental well-being is incorporated by the WHO in the comprehensive definition of what constitutes HEALTH. So, there’s no good health without MENTAL HEALTH

Misconceptions about mental illness

Let’s briefly take a look at common Misconceptions about mental illness

A lot of misconceptions exist around mental health. Many believe that they are due to spiritual or demonic afflictions. Many also believe they are due to individual weaknesses or deficiencies in personality and character. Some others often think that they are a result of drug abuse only. However, the truth is far from any of the above beliefs.

Mainly, there are multiple factors that can lead to the development of mental health problems. These are currently summarized as biological, psychological and social factors or simply BIOPSYCHOSOCIAL causes. These factors are also to be considered in therapy for mental health illnesses.

Biological factors include those that are constitutional or due to biological influences

These biological factors may be inherited predispositions like have close relatives like parents or siblings have a mental health challenge which will also imply that one is having the genes. This does not however mean that everyone carrying the genetic predisposition will develop an illness as environmental factors also play important roles

Psychological factors include those factors like personality type, the kind of love and care persons experience while growing up, and psychological impact of other experiences. Example may be witnessing a horrifying event like ghastly road accidents, being the victim or witness of rape, torture or murder.

Social factors can include poverty, poor living conditions, being an immigrant or a refugee, or even the solitude from the current COVID 19 lockdown

Let’s take a look at common mental health issues of note next

Common mental health issues worthy of note include but are not limited to the ones listed below

  • Anxiety
  • Mood disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Organic mental disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders

Anxiety disorders- these are by far the commonest group of mental health challenges that are encountered in general medical practice and are usually missed by practitioners. This is because many of the symptoms and vague and non-specific to any particular organ system of the body.

Mood disorders are characterized by changes in mood states of which the commonest is Depression. Actually, mood problems can encompass any condition from depression where the person experiences persistent low mood/feelings of sadness, low energy, and lack of interest in pleasurable activities on the one hand, and MANIA which is almost the exact opposite of depression as it is characterized by elation, excessive energy, feelings of grandiosity and beliefs and many more

There are many shades of mood problems in between the 2 described above.

Psychotic disorders include those in which persons experience distortion in thinking, perceptions, experiences, beliefs, and where hallucinations may be present. Here, the individuals are not in touch with reality and they are often said to have lost their EGO BOUNDARIES as they often cannot tell the difference between personal experience and what is perceived externally from the environment.

Substance use disorders are all the various mental health issues that can arise from the use of psychoactive substances. These can range from Drug misuse or harmful use to Dependence or Addiction as the case may be.

Organic mental disorders arise from mainly other health conditions but manifesting with mental disorder symptoms. These includes Seizure disorders (convulsions), degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, head injuries and their sequelae, effects of uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure, liver failure, severe anemia and many others

Eating disorders anorexia and bulimia, pica and other abnormalities associated with eating

Personally disorders are generally a pattern of behavior and thinking that is often unusual and cause problems with how the person relates to himself and other members of the society

There are other disorders that are specific to children, or that are gender specific

Thank you all for your time

It was a nice time during this session, from the above explanation by Doc Garba it seems all of us a vulnerable to different types of mental challenges and that makes it imperative for proper self care so we dont slide into serious mental health challenges.

We can practice below these Ten Things  for Your Mental Health, Try these tips to keep your balance, or re-balance yourself.

1. Value yourself:

Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language.

2. Take care of your body:

  • Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. Be sure to:
  • Eat nutritious meals
  • Avoid cigarettes
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise, which helps decrease depression and anxiety and improve moods
  • Get enough sleep. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to a high rate of depression in college students. 

3. Surround yourself with good people: People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.

4. Give yourself: Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it’s a great way to meet new people.

5. Learn how to deal with stress: Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.

6. Quiet your mind: Try meditating, Mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy.

7. Set realistic goals: Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don’t over-schedule. You’ll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress toward your goal. 

8. Break up the monotony: Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant.

9. Avoid alcohol and other drugs: Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to “self-medicate” but in reality, alcohol and other drugs only aggravate problems.

10. Get help when you need it: Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.

But, I’ve just tried to scratch the surface of what is MENTAL HEALTH but I hope the questions arising will enable me shed more as required.