By Favour O. Usiobaifo
The Community Psychiatric unit of Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Benin City on Wednesday, May 26th, 2021 visited the Ogida health care centre in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State to commemorate the 2021 World Maternal Mental Health Awareness month with the theme “Journey to Discovery”.
While addressing the nursing mothers at the occasion, Dr. L. Amadasun who led the team said that maintaining sound mental health is a necessity for all humans, especially for mothers during and after pregnancy. He said that many people usually misconstrue mental illness to mean only Schizophrenia cases which the layman may refer to as the mad ones or destitute. He spoke further, stating that mental health disorders are beyond it as individuals who seemly looks good may have mental illness or symptoms. He stated that stress is a part of the day-to-day life of humans which could adversely affect the brain and consequently result in being mentally unhealthy if not properly managed. He urged women to seek ante-natal care immediately they realized that they are pregnant, noting that pregnancy on its own can be stressful. He also advised mothers not to take fear and worries to heart during pregnancy as it could affect their mental health.
According to him, some women may be predisposed to mental illness before being pregnant. However, the stress of the pregnancy could precipitate an episode, for those who have had a previous episode of mental illness, it may precipitate a relapse. Thus, he advised women to visit their doctors for medical check-ups regularly. He went further to explain the importance of the early stage of pregnancy (first three months/first trimester), as this can go a long way to determine the outcome of the health of the unborn child both physically and mentally. Thus, he advised the women against smoking tobacco and or cannabis, avoid stress they can control, fighting, and taking alcohol and other substances of abuse during pregnancy. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, immunization for babies, and postnatal care for mothers. He said these will help in the brain development of the babies and also help to boost their immune system, thus reducing under-five mortality.