Lockdown: How negative coping mechanisms may trigger mental illness- Psychologist
A clinical psychologist, Dr Benjamin Olley, on Wednesday warned Nigerians against negative mechanisms in coping with the current lockdown aimed at containing the coronavirus in most parts of the country.
He gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan.
Olley, who is of the Department of Psychology, University of Ibadan, said that due to the fact that many people didn’t prepare for the lockdown, it may have brought about different coping mechanisms in individuals.
“There is a psychological preparation for staying at home but when it is sudden, people will be traumatised and this will result in psychological consequences of trauma.
“Because people didn’t plan for this it will give a sense of uncertainty and fear and if accompanied by socioeconomic problems, it means one is being deprived of social benefits especially for those who earn daily means of living.
“It increases frustration and then there is aggression. Once these set in, it can lead to other psychological problems,” he said.
Olley further said that some people enter into a state of helplessness, sadness and ultimately go into depression.
He noted that these were among the reasons people in the developed countries now commit suicide.
“Isolation or stay home order as we have now can trigger an underlying psychological problem, an underlying mental illness because all of us have a relative psychological problem.
”This rather traumatic and stressful situation that we find ourselves can lead to major health problems for some people,” the clinical psychologist said.
The expert, however, urged people to engage in positive coping techniques that would not be injurious to their body.
“Coping is just to reduce the psychic injury that one may tend to experience in the midst of the psychological distress.
“We have functional and dysfunctional coping methods. Some people will just begin to drink and take alcohol and those already taking alcohol may take it excessively.
“Some people will begin to do self medication and that could be injurious to their health all because they are not used to staying at home or being confined or restricted to a place.
“So lots of this might trigger mental problems as a lot of people will want to cope in an unhealthy way,” he said.
Olley warned that it may also lead to an increase in risky and erratic sexual behaviour, with some jettisoning government’s order.
Proffering some solutions, he said that the two major coping techniques include emotional solving and problem solving, depending on the individual.
“The emotional solving method is for people to pray to their God, to continue to be hopeful and some people might even cry, drink or eat too much and become obese.
“Others can while away time by watching movies, reading holy books or even engage in prayers.
“But people who are problem focused will find practical means to face whatever problem they have with practical solutions,” Olley said.
The psychologist also urged the government to be proactive in addressing the welfare needs of the people.
He noted that the larger population of Nigeria were the downtrodden who earn daily living to survive.
“If government at all levels can get their acts together and be sincere, we will get out of this situation.
“Government needs to be strategic and not use a bandwagon approach to tackle the challenges at hand, especially in the face of economic hardship,” he said.
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