As a young editor in the early 2000 (Deputy Editor, The Monitor on Sunday) when I controlled many pages of the defunct Ibadan-based newspaper, published by the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao, I felt concerned that mental health issues were hardly featured in the newspapers. As I took special interest in this aspect of health, having read quite some family health literature from the bookshelves of my brother-in-law, Alhaji Ariyayo Azeez, a prominent Ibadan-based broadcaster who retired from the services of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State few years ago and died on Christmas day few weeks ago, I resolved to make a difference in health feature on the pages of The Monitor on Sunday. I sought out an expert at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. I found one in Professor. Yinka Omigbodun who I conscripted to be our columnist on the Mental Health Page introduced in The Monitor. Every week, I ‘troubled’ Prof to ensure that the column does not fail. She did not disappoint in her flawless treatment of various aspects of mental health.
As I was the editor or the chief proof reader of that page, I digested every bit of her thoughts on mental health I was most benefitted. I also began acquiring some literatures on mental health. Listening to Prozaic was one of the books I purchased on the book stands. I had had some collections on diets and emotional issues. I took especially to Prof. Omigbodun’s analysis of the causes or predisposing factors of depression; I was sensitive to her advice in her columns on how to relate with persons living with depression; I followed her warnings on lifestyles that can lead to depression. From her weekly essays I learnt to take life easy. The lessons from Omigbodun were very invaluable to me on how not be depressed by the vicissitudes of life or how to recover wholesomely from losses.
Today, depression is the albatross of many families, especially the rich and the mighty. Yet, they don’t want to talk about it because of the fear of being referred to the psychiatrist or in order to avoid the stigma of ‘madness’. Yet, their lifestyle is at the root of their depression. Their insatiable quest for wealth accumulation, their uncommon ambition, their losses and failures in business, the drugs they take in order to be ‘high’ and active, the problems of their problem-children, wayward or dull, the pressure of their high offices and the disappointments or loss of their beloved are behind the sickness they are trying to cover up instead of seeking attention on time. It is worse for those in in sports or the creative industry: writers, artists, musicians, poets, film-makers as those who belong to this class are mostly misunderstood, yet driven to the extremes in the bid to break through. They are also exploited by those who surround them as personal physicians, chaperons, advisers or even fake matrimonial mates or live-in lovers.