Military, stakeholders begin awareness campaign on mental health among personnel

The Nigerian Army and other stakeholders have emphasised the need to enhance mental health awareness among military personnel and other security agencies to address cases of stress disorder in operational fronts.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), Department of Army Transformation and Innovation in collaboration with Peace Building Development Consult, on Monday commenced a three-day Mental Health Resilience and Wellness Course (MHRWC 3) in Abuja.

The Director General of NARC, Maj.-Gen. Garba Wahab, represented by retired Maj.-Gen. Joseph Orokpo, said the issue of mental health was crucial to the military, paramilitary and the entire nation.

Wahab said there had been instances of soldiers shooting indiscriminately and killing colleagues, saying such circumstance could be triggered by operational issues, stress, trauma, anxiety and other factors that affect mental health of personnel.

He urged the participants to advise their patients and commanders on what to do to avoid the issue of mental health on the field considering the current operations being undertaken by the military and other security agencies.

“We expect that they will find themselves in the operational areas and then they will be able to advise the commanders and treat their patients accordingly.

“Mental issues in the military is of a great concern to us at all time. People with stress disorders, trauma, and all those kind of things.

“In the military, we want them to be in the right frame of mind to carry out the operations for national security,” he said.

Dr Omoyemu Dike-Osuhor, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), said there was need to understand the role of the brain being the control centre of the body.

Dike-Osuhor said the brain controls emotion, intelligence judgment and behavior, saying that it was crucial for security personnel who had to make important decisions and judgments when carrying out operations.

She said the issue of mental health was important for military personnel in enhancing their resilience and handling of stress to avoid poor judgment that could lead to loss of life.

The psychiatrist lamented the dearth of adequate facilities to manage and control mental health, as well as shortage of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors.

“It is only almost at the tertiary level that we are able to identify mental health disorder, but it is from the grassroots, the primary healthcare center that it would be discovered that a person is becoming depressed, has anxiety and should be refered appropriately.

“It is not only medication that is needed to manage mental health disorder, you have the behavioral part which involves counselling, psychotherapy and all that.

“So we need to inculcate this from the primary healthcare to the tertiary level.

“My call to the military is I know that their training involves them being resilient and being hard, but everybody has got a brain and the brain is subject to being affected by any stress situation.

“So when you feel that you are overwhelmed and not coping, please call out for help. Don’t say my training says I should not feel sick, if not, the end result, the outcome might not be so good,” he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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