Mental health and its ABCDE

man standing in front of the window

With the removal of petrol subsidy by President Bola Tinubu and its immediate effect of people’s finances and standards of living, it is certain that many Nigerians are on edge. Though the development is a bitter pill to swallow, it is clear that in it lies a major solution to Nigeria’s socio-economic woes. No wonder that all the major candidates in the 2023 presidential election promised to confront the devil and remove it once and for all.

Today, many Nigerians are under intense pressure with people experimenting diverse coping strategies. While it is easy for some people to accept reality as it unfolds, others find it difficult to cope and are therefore vulnerable to the ravages of mental health, including bipolar disorder, depression and suicide.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental  health is  a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. It is described as a basic human right, being a crucial component of personal, community, socio-economic and national development.

Apart from factors that are biological, medical, genetic or substance-related, ordinary people are always exposed to mental health challenges due to social, economic, political and environmental conditions. As such, poverty and want, violence, inequality, environmental deprivation, harsh parenting, terrible work conditions, negative interactions, insecurity and emotional abuse all constitute threats to mental health.

When pressure is applied on one or one is disappointed, one either responds or reacts. Responding has to do with being calm, assessing the situation and taking measures towards finding a solution. To react is to let loose emotion and curse, lament, condemn and attack, which are usually counter-productive.

I think the solution to dealing with our challenges lies in ABCDE. By internalising and applying it, we will be able to deal more with stress and enjoy peace of mind. Though it is admitted that it is easier said than done, the ABCDE approach is always worth the effort.

One, Accept reality. We squeal naturally when we confront something scary and unexpected. But after the immediate shock, we should have tranquility in accepting reality especially if the problem is general or beyond our control. Denying reality and worrying on the inevitable ultimately robs one of mental health. So, accept your reality, be calm and acknowledge that tough times don’t last, only tough people do.

Two, Be good to others. Goodness is therapeutic and kindness is contagious. When you are unhappy, make someone else happy. When you are aggrieved, do not transfer your aggression or suffering to others. As soon as the announcement of subsidy removal was made, even before the new price of the product was fixed, some marketers had started to increase the price of fuel, which is bad. It is natural law that the good you do comes back to you one way or the other.

Three, Count your blessings. In times of distress, we often forget to be grateful for the blessings we enjoy that we often take for granted. You don’t have to be in war to appreciate peace and you don’t have to suffer the torment of incarceration before you appreciate freedom. Other people are dealing with war while others are disabled. There are even people who are unemployed while those employed complain of insufficient salary. If you count your blessings, you will be grateful all the time, in spite of the circumstances.

Four, Discipline your mind and body. Our actions are manifestations of our thoughts. So, rather than allow your thoughts to go wild, discipline your mind to remain positive so that you will see the silver lining in every cloud. René Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore, I am.” Our thoughts shape our destiny and our world. Then, mind what you do, restrict where you go and be physically active. Negative instincts are common among those who don’t think out of the box.

Five, Explore alternatives and engage with others. There are multiple routes to the market. If man closes his door, God has multiple doors when you engage Him and people. Do not be scared of discussing your challenges with trusted friends because a problem shared is half-solved.

In essence, there is nothing new under the sun and the challenges you are facing are the reality of several others. As a matter of fact, there are many people who are facing worse challenges than yours because everyone is ultimately in the middle. Life is a ladder; there are always those who are above you as there are those below.