As a follow-up of activities to commemorate the 2021 World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, the Community Psychiatric Unit of Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Benin City throughout the month of May took enlightenment campaigns to some of the health centres in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State.
Speaking during their visit to Edaiken Health Centre in Uselu, Dr. T. O. Jegede, a Consultant Psychiatrist who led the team informed the nursing mothers that the essence of the awareness campaign was on how mothers can maintain sound mental health during and after pregnancy. She stated that the background to this month’s activities is to reduce the incidence (i.e. new cases) of mental illnesses and ultimately reduce the prevalence of mental health disorders in the community over time. Hence, the reason the hospital is partnering with health centers and addressing nursing mothers because of their unique roles in the home. She said that during pregnancy, some women may experience symptoms suggestive of mental disorders. She elaborated on the fact that illnesses in the mother during pregnancy, difficulties during labor and delivery could adversely affect both the mother and the child, either physically or mentally. “Today we are focusing on a mentally healthy mother, as she is one who can help take care of the child to make them grow into healthy (physically and mentally) adults”, she noted. Dr. Jegede harped on the need for nursing mothers to maintain good mental health, stating that without it they cannot cater for their babies and take care of their homes. She counseled them on how to maintain good mental health practices, the suggestions included getting health care in government-approved health centers or facilities, having exercises regularly, engaging in recreational activities, feeding well, getting adequate sleep (6 to 8 hours of rest). She emphasized abstaining from taking alcohol and other substances of abuse during pregnancy. She concluded by cautioning the mothers against stigmatizing people with mental illness because mental disorders don’t respect age, gender, or social status, thus, emphasized the need to care by assisting them to get medical treatments in mental health institutions and be supportive in the community.