Everyone has the tendency to develop a mental illness, a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Psychological Medicine, Synapse Services, Abuja, Mr Samuel Jinadu, said on Friday.

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Speaking with TheCable on the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, ‘Living with schizophrenia’, Jinadu stated that mental illnesses, most especially schizophrenia, could afflict anyone regardless of colour, class and religion, which is why the Synapse Services was collaborating with non-governmental organisation Reconnect Health Development Initiative to raise awareness on mental health.

“The truth is schizophrenia is something that can afflict anyone. Although, genetics and environment play a role in determining who develops the disease, it is something that anyone can develop owing to stress and pressure,” he explained.

“People have different ways of responding to stress and pressure. And they way people absorb shock and stress differs. So what can cause a mental breakdown for one person may not have any effect on another person.”

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The psychologist also predicted that more people would develop mental problems in the country, as insecurity and poverty worsen.

“As more people face crippling challenges in the country with very few resilience factors, more psychiatric cases will be recorded,” he said, putting the number of Nigerians with mental illnesses at over 64 million.

The founder of Mental Health Foundation, Dr Emmanuel Owoyemi, had said last year that 64 million Nigerians suffer from different shades of mental illness.

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“It has been reported that 64 million Nigerians have mental illnesses, but that figure can be an underestimation. I think the figure is higher than that because most psychiatric cases are not reported,” Jinadu said.

“Families of victims of mental illness prefer taking them to prayer houses rather than psychiatric hospitals. Some families even abandon them.

“There is little awareness in the area of mental health. People seem to care more about their physical health than their mental health. That is why we are using this day to call on Nigerians to be concerned about their mental status, and also care for people with mental challenges by taking them to psychiatric hospitals for treatment.”

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