Sunday 26 March 2023

Naira scarcity affecting Nigerians’ mental health, expert says

A mental health expert Ben Arikpo says the lingering naira scarcity, among other issues could worsen the sanity of many Nigerians if not quickly stemmed.

Nigerians have faced harrowing experiences since the Central Bank outlawed higher denominations of the naira notes in January while introducing acutely insufficient redesigned ones.

The expert said the naira scarcity was compounding the many challenges of an average Nigerian, leading to mental health issues.


“There is an increased concern on mental health globally but the intensity of the problem is dependent on how the stressors are managed.

“An average Nigerian for instance has so much to grapple with, ranging from Naira and fuel scarcity to high cost of things.

“If you own a property for instance, you dig your borehole, pay for electricity poles, metres and other things.

“The day you do not pay your bills, AEDC will disconnect the power supply and tell you it is their property.

“These stressors have put so much pressure on Nigerians, leading to anxiety and various forms of aggressive behaviours that are injurious to our mental health,” he said.

He said banks opening on Saturdays and Sundays was good, adding that efforts should be made to end the stress of lingering queues and unresponsive banking channels.

According to him, more needs to be done to ensure that people have access to cash without having to queue all day long.

Mr Arikpo said “unfortunately in Nigeria, not so much attention is paid to citizen’s mental health.

“This is one aspect of our health that we must pay attention to as a people because it has a lot to do with our overall well being, ” he said.

He said it was important for the government to implement policies that were friendly to the people to save them from mental ill-health.

The mental health expert said that in the USA recently, two major banks crashed and the government stepped in and took over the liability of those banks.

He said that the U.S. government’s action would leave individual accounts holders in those banks with little or no losses.

“I remember how the collapse of some new generation banks some years ago affected a lot of people because of the way it was handled.

“Unfortunately, most of these problems affect the downtrodden more than the five to 10 per cent of the people in the highest echelon of society,” he said.

Mr Arikpo urged Nigerians to find ways to manage stress with or without government’s help.

He said Nigerians should endeavour to apply emotional intelligence when under pressure rather than taking it out on people.

According to him, people should always avoid negative conversations and be intentional, strategic and more patient when dealing with difficulties.

Mr Arikpo also said people should live within their means to avoid pressures that could lead to mental health problems.

He also urged Nigerians to cultivate the habit of visiting hospitals to check their mental health, which was crucial as other aspects of one’s well being.

He said Nigerians usually attribute mental health issues with mental illness and psychiatric issues, saying it was wrong.

“If someone says I am going to a mental health clinic to check my mental health, people marvel but that is the right thing to do to stay healthy,” he said. 



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