As the economic hardship takes a toll on Nigerians, Clinical Psychologist, Adedotun Ajiboye has advised people to live within their means.
He also advised Nigerians to be their brothers’ keepers to avoid mental health issues.
Ajiboye who works with the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti, gave this advice in an interview in Abuja on Monday.
Recall the latest inflation data from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows a continuous increase in the prices of food items in the country leaving many Nigerians hungry and barely able to feed properly.
Ajiboye who is also a Counselor, said a bad economy could affect the mental health of a person and negatively impact their biological, psychological, and social status.
“There is a concept called Bio psychosocial and I will link a bad economy to this concept.
“This concept contains the biological, which includes your brain to different parts of your body.
“The second is the psychological, which has to do with your mental health and lastly the social, which has to do with your family, workplace, academics, and the status of an individual.’’
He said a bad economy could affect a person’s biological status for instance if the person is unable to eat because of lack of money.
“When an individual does not have money to eat, the biggest issue will be malnutrition, and the best medicine is not to use medication but to eat good food, that is having a balanced diet.
“When you are not capable of buying the components that make up a balanced diet there will be malnutrition and when someone is malnourished there will be a lot of diseases manifesting.
“These diseases will lead to other diseases that can lead to death. If someone has financial challenges the health of that person will be affected.’’
Speaking on how the bad economy affects the psychological/emotional status, Ajiboye said studies had shown that it could affect a person’s mental health leading to anxiety and depression.
“When you are malnourished and getting sick, the person is sad and what is bringing about that sadness? It is because the person is sick in their body.
“You can see the spiral effect of the bad economy, initially it affects the biological status (the body)and it is now transferred to the psychological status.
“When you know your children are hungry and you cannot feed them, it will make you sad and because of that you may not be able to sleep and when your sleep is lost, it can lead to a toxic disorder.
“Someone may begin to hallucinate because of insomnia (disruptions in how you feel or function because you are not sleeping well or sleeping enough) because of negative emotions and worrying about tomorrow.
“You begin to have thoughts of hopelessness when you cannot sleep and this leads to depression and can lead to suicide.’’
He said another effect of the bad economy on the psychological status of a person had to do with behaviour.
Ajibioye said many Nigerians were going into deviant behaviours, such as internet fraud popularly called “yahoo yahoo”, and gambling which had led to substance addiction such as marijuana, codeine, and tramadol use.
“All these are behaviours but it started with a mood disorder; someone is confused about life and wants to medicate and overcome the challenges.
“So that thought process has graduated to bad behavior and bad habits which has led to social vices like internet fraud, and theft. It can also lead to ritual killings and gender-based violence.
“A husband who does not have money may abuse the wife, not really because he wants to but we have what we call transfer of aggression.
“When you do not have money and you do not have self-control you will be angry. Therefore, if the economy is okay, some of these bad behaviours will not be seen.’’
The clinical psychologist said the poor economy could affect the social status of a person in the area of socialisation.
He said if a person could not afford to go beyond primary or secondary school education their skills and potential would be limited.
“Even if you have a talent, you may not be able to explore them; low self-esteem will set in and if that person marries, the person may not settle because there may be some inferiority feelings and transfer of aggression.
“We see a lot of divorce happening now and marital discord because of inferiority feelings caused by lack of socialisation.
“If you take 10 couples with marital issues and ask them the cause and they are sincere, their answer will be related to money, and financial difficulty.
“Apart from the family, a bad economy can affect a person in their workplace. Many dubious and fraudulent acts are going on in the workplace.
“The person gets involved in such acts of fraud because of fear of the unknown and thinks if they leave that position how will they feed their family; so they will steal because they have the opportunity.”
Ajiboye, however, said this was a bad approach to cope with financial stress caused by a bad economy.
“So we see the effects of a bad economy. It has a spiral effect; homes, workplaces, and even churches have been affected. You hear people stealing money in church.’’
He said some ways to address the effects of a bad economy on mental health was for people to be their brother’s keepers and live within their means.
“If the government is not helping us, we can help ourselves.
“Let us reduce our extravagant lifestyle, like buying expensive asoebi, and exotic cars. Such money can be used to create organisations that will employ and empower people.
“I am not saying we should not socialise but wisdom is profitable to direct. So what we followers are doing is also outrageous, there is what you call calculated risk that will lead to negative outcomes.
“For example, do not say because my friend put his kids in a private university, I must do the same. That would be a misplaced priority, cut your cloth according to your size.
“As families and individuals, let us help ourselves not waiting for what the government will do for you. The government cannot do everything for you. Learn a skill so you can stand on your own.
Ajiboye urged the government to have conscience and do the needful, knowing there would be a payday and whatever you sow you would reap.
“Both leaders and followers can help our economy become good. You may never have poor mental health if you can manage yourself and live within your means.’’