10 young Nigerians talk about how parents, social media affect their mental health

What is the mental state of young people in Nigeria?

What impacts are parents and social media having on the mental health of young people? [Pexels]

I spoke with young people between the ages of 20 and 29 who are on the cusp of adulthood.

At that age, they are either in school, about to graduate, or working their first or second jobs.

Business Insider reports that young people in the United States are more depressed than ever, going through sustained periods in which they're losing interest in life and leisure activities.

To find out if this is the case in Nigeria, I spoke with 10 people who live in Lagos, Edo, Ibadan, and Osun.

Many of the people I spoke to were anxious. Although, it was also dependent on what was happening to them at that moment.

Tami (23) had straight A's in his exams so he is feeling happy. "I'm fired up and hopeful right now."

Chioma (21) feels anxious. "I have social anxiety, as well as general anxiety for life. It interferes with everything I do."

Demola (23), who lives alone, feels traumatised because of past experiences.

Jane (23), who also lives alone, is anxious because of the fear of the unknown.

Blessing (25) is anxious as well. "Been feeling so uncertain about what comes next."

Felicia (21) is depressed because, "I really feel there is nothing to be excited about."

Bimpe (21) is unsure of how she is feeling.

Ayo (23) lives with his parents and is anxious to grow at a faster pace.

Yomi (27) is anxious too because, "I'm looking forward to leaving home to start my life."

Richard (29) feels the same. "My life is still hanging, I have not met my major life targets and I don't know if I would ever meet them."

Good or bad parenting affects us even as adults. Our relationship with either one of our parents can have a positive or negative impact on our lives.

Tami feels like his parents contribute to his happiness because they support him and his goals. "I am who I am thanks to God, and them."

On the other hand, Chioma feels her father contributes to her anxiety. "It's probably childhood trauma, I haven't thought about it too much. My dad is verbally abusive. Manipulative.

"I'm not sure what words to describe him with. I just tell people he's mentally ill. Because I think his behaviour stems from something."

Felicia feels traumatised and attributes it to her parents. "I was always left alone."

Demola says maybe his parents contribute to his depression but he is unsure how.

Bimpe feels her parents add to her anxiety. "Yes, sometimes I feel anxious because of the thoughts or their actual reactions to certain issues or phases in my life."

A lot of young people spend a lot of time on social media these days, clocking in hours every day on Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, and/or Facebook, and many more.

What effect does it have on them? Do they have the urge to be a different person online?

Tami says, "Instagram has no effect on my mental health. Twitter annoys and burdens me sometimes. I see some ridiculous takes about certain topics that gain traction and I find it annoying. Also, herd mentality."

"I am mostly the same person online but not quite."

Chioma says, "There can be nasty and insensitive people on social media. I'm learning to keep scrolling. I'm on and off in real life and social media."

Social media does not affect Jane's mental health, but she is not the same online and offline. "I exhibit a happy persona online."

Blessing doesn't think it affects her too and she is just the same online and offline. "I'm guarded in real life, only truly expressive with my real friends. It's the same for my online persona.

"My Instagram for instance doesn't reveal much about me, you will never truly figure me out from what I put out."

Ayo says, "Right now, I'm in a good place with social networks, but there was a time when going on Twitter upset me and the mere thought of it made me anxious.

"It was difficult logging in to discover that something crazy had happened and people were expressing very disturbing views as usual."

Social media does affect Bimpe's mental state. "Sometimes I'm plus-size, and seeing pictures of slimmer people sometimes triggers an insecurity but this mostly happens when I'm at my lowest."

All my respondents want to succeed but few feel pressured to. Except for two, the rest know what they want to do with their lives.

One of those two is Chioma, and the state of her mental health is a significant stumbling block.

"The thought scares me. I'm focusing on having stable mental health mostly, really.

"A lot of the things I hope for my future, I'd love to be in a good place mentally before I go into that."

Tami is also still figuring it all out, but he is making some plans along the way.

"Actively looking out for opportunities. Investment in acquiring knowledge. Praying."

None of my respondents is getting professional help like therapy, but hanging out with friends seems to be a good enough substitute for many.

Tami says, "I can either deal with it positively or negatively. I deal with it negatively by isolating myself or binge watching movies, and positively by talking to my friends and not isolating myself."

Yomi says, "I just wait for the wave to pass. I don't do anything in particular."

Conversations around mental health have become less taboo compared to the past.

And thankfully, young people now have access to more resources than past generations had to deal with their issues.

Whatever is the trigger for their negative feelings, they should always explore their options to get better and improve their lives.

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