President Bola Tinubu, on the 29th of May, 2023, was inaugurated as the President of Nigeria, following his victory in the presidential election held on the 25th of February, 2023.
Upon his inauguration, President Tinubu wasted no time in ending fuel subsidy, which saw the price of petrol increase from N189 per litre to N600 per litre.
The decision of the President has led to an increase in the price of commodities, transportation and several other services in the country.
Despite the increase in the price of petrol, the minimum wage in the country has not been increased, as Nigerians are expected to take care of their needs with their peanut earnings.
Even though the Federal Government and State Governments have put in place palliatives to ease the effect of the subsidy removal, Nigerians lament daily.
Not only did the removal of fuel subsidy affect Nigerians’ spending, but the mental state of several Nigerians who find it hard to meet their daily needs has been tampered with.
Depression has set in, while others are unhappy because their daily or monthly earnings can not put good food on their table.
The policies put in place by President Tinubu’s administration have seen Unity Schools, Federal Universities and private schools increase their school fees and the price of textbooks.
This development prompted Naija News to interview a clinical psychologist on the effect of President Tinubu’s policies on Nigerians’ mental health.
– President Tinubu has proposed various economic and social policies since taking office. In your opinion, as a clinical psychologist, what impacts could these policies have on the mental health of average Nigerians?
“In the quest to remodel the economy to bring about growth and development through job creation, food security and end to extreme poverty and unemployment,
but unfortunately, an average Nigerian is already in damaged condition.
“Invariably one can point to 7 out of 10 Nigerians are passing through one challenge or other which affects their mental health.
“His economic policy started on a toxic note which has left an average Nigerian in a devastating state. His policies are good and can resuscitate the economy if sustained but the level of poverty of Nigerians is dunked that an average Nigerian is struggling to live and just want to live.
“The effect of the sharp removal of fuel subsidy on business owners in a country challenged with lack of power, in a country where average Nigerian lives below 100 thousand Naira, a country where low-income earners have less than 4 children to take care of and downsizing of employees in organisations or salary slash with no hope from a government inflicting injury on its citizens.”
– Some critics argue President Tinubu’s policies mainly benefit the wealthy elite and could increase inequality. How might rising inequality affect rates of mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression among lower-income Nigerians?
“Inequality thrives in access to healthcare, morbidity and mortality. It affects and curtails a person’s human rights through feeling discriminated against, abused and denied justice, it induces impulse control and increases immediate pleasure seeking such as resulting in doing drugs, taking alcohol, thinking, divided missions and terrorism because of oppression.
“Urge to live to up to standard in order not to feel oppressed resulting in criminality. Inequality has led to uncontrolled increase in debt to live up to the task, inequality in income package all leading to mental health issues.”
– The President has emphasised infrastructure initiatives like power, roads and rail. How could improving basic infrastructure impact Nigerians’ mental well-being? Could it help mitigate stress?
“Availability of basic infrastructure should be made accessible to average citizens and at affordable cost and also subsidised.
“In developing nations like Nigeria, quality healthcare, good schools, constant water, good accommodation and electricity are not within the wins and caprice of average citizens.
“The burden of high cost and pains of getting access to these services has eroded the mentality of the common man making them resulting into engaging into shortcut practices which might become a part of their lifestyle resulting shifting from the paradigm of patriotism.”
– One area President Tinubu has received criticism is security, as insurgent violence continues plaguing parts of Nigeria. What are the potential psychological impacts of living in regions with high crime and terrorism?
“Average Nigerian wants assurance of protection of their life and property from the government. When this assurance becomes a lost hope, fear, anxiety, loss and unassured future becomes the hope of the masses sending them into high mortality rates, suicide, depression and terrorism.”
– What advice would you give President Tinubu on designing economic and social policies that foster positive mental health outcomes among Nigerians?
“The realisation that mental health services is a crucial health sector has been opaque to Nigerians over the decades until recently when it started dawning on us that mental health goes beyond a naked madman walking on the street.
“With the role of the NDLEA, NAFDAC and some NGO’s involvement in campaigns against speaking out and adequate medical check-ups people are beginning to understand the reality of mental health issues affecting them.
“Research has it that 71 million Nigerians are suffering from different mental health issues and only 7% of these people have access to health care.
“The rest result in herbalist measures, spiritual assistance and others slip into depression and finally suicide.
Types Of Mental Disorder
1 Clinical depression
2 Anxiety disorder
3 Bipolar disorder
6 Post-traumatic stress
7. Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
“So this government has not visited any bill on mental health issues, though some para-military institutions in Nigeria are beginning to involve mental health activities into their system for the benefit of their staff.
“For now this administration has not really engaged the necessary stakeholders in mental health institutions for a robust plan that can benefit Nigerians.
“The President is in the position to engage every institution, agency, organisation, parastatals, Association and civil societies on how they can implement policies that will foster and sustain positive mental health services available to their members to live a healthy life.”
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