4: An African city and mental health

30 days 30 minutes

A few episodes on An African city, (I’ve talked about it HERE) Nana Yaa, one of the main characters was expressing some feelings about depression because of a dead relationship with her ex. One of her friends suggested she go see a therapist to deal with her depression, which she responded with, “that is not Ghanaian” or something along those lines.

This got me thinking about our views on mental illness as an African society. I know Nana Yaa isn’t the only person who thinks that mental health issues isn’t something Africans discuss or deal with.

Most of us Africans associate mental illness or mental instability with madness. Growing up in Tema, Ghana *shout out to community 8* I saw so many people roaming about that no one really wanted to deal with being laughed at and called crazy. I heard people talking about women who “turned” crazy because their husband left them in  painful way. People will say things like “a fa ni trim” in a poking-fun type of way, or insinuate that she wasn’t strong enough to handle what had happened to her.

But the truth is, if we are all honest with ourselves, we would admit that we’ve all dealt with some sort of mental illness. The difference is the severity level. But the fact is, Africans are not excluded from suffering mental anguish, depression, anxiety, panic disorders, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc…and I noticed this especially in the last 2 years. Both young and older Ghanaians were committing suicide back home and abroad. I also realized people were dealing with mental health issues because people were openly talking about their depression and anxiety on social media.

I know that I’ve suffered from these things myself and it isn’t a joke. People can’t just snap out of it or “toughen-up” and deal with their issues. Sometimes things are bigger than us and some injuries are difficult to overcome with positive thinking and time.

Which leads me seeking help from therapists.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much people think its laughable when I mention therapy. I’ve gotten responses like, “don’t you believe in God?” or something a bit more offensive like, “you must think you’re white.”

I never really understand why Africans question someones relationship with God when they mention mental illness. Because if we say that God has a purpose for everyone and uses people, why is it so hard for us to accept that God heals through therapists and psychiatrists.

I don’ know. I’m not an expert on mental health issues, so I’ll just leave this here.

till tomorrow!

so much love

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