As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the 2021 World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day (WMMHAD) today May 5th, the Community Psychiatric Unit of Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Benin City took an awareness campaign to the women and nursing mothers at the Immunization Centre in Egor Local Government Area Secretariat, in Edo State.
Addressing the women during the occasion, Dr. C.F. Inogbo, a Consultant Psychiatrist who led the team, informed them that the maternal mental health awareness week was set aside globally to predominantly celebrate mothers all over the world and dedicated to talking about mental illness during and after pregnancy. According to her, mental health is part of one’s health that helps one to think, feel and act, thus women should not neglect it. Women usually experience some stress during pregnancy which could result to mental illness after delivery if not promptly and properly managed. She further stated that research and studies have shown that the changes some women experience during pregnancy may be similar to those of illness; and that the stress of pregnancy could make such women experience some problems after delivery. “Thus, the reason we are here today is to enlighten you on ways you can prevent stress that can lead to mental illness during pregnancy and after delivery”, she noted.
On his part, Dr. L. Amadasun, told the women that the main thrust of the awareness talk was about how to promote good mental health. He re-emphasized the saying that, “a sound mind and body is a good and healthy nation, and without them it would be difficult to move the nation forward”. He therefore advised all the mothers to take care of their mental health, adding that if it is not sound it would be difficult for them to cater for and train their children to grow to become responsible persons in the society. He further cautioned pregnant women to always attend their ante-natal and post-natal care for regular check-up. While he enumerated the sources of mental illness to include: unemployment, post-traumatic stress, smoking, alcohol abuse, accident and hereditary; he said access to good education, good housing, good food, less stressful work etc can however help to ensure good mental health.
During the question and answer session, Dr. A.O. Archibong said that mental stress could happen to anyone whether rich or poor, stating that it is not every mother that necessarily experiences mental stress during pregnancy but that available research has shown that one in every five mothers may likely develop mental stress. She harped on the importance of prevention against mental illness and encouraged the women to always seek medical counsel from professionals whenever they are in doubt.
The World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day is led by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership UK (PMHP UK) and marked annually between (3rd – 9th May) to raise public and professional awareness of perinatal mental illness, advocating for women affected by it, and helping them access the information, care and support they need to recover. The theme of this year’s celebration of the day is “Journey to Discovery”.