By Sade Oguntola
‘It is a moment of epidemic of mental health problems among politicians… A good number of them do not sleep well, are unduly irritable and come up with verbal or physical aggression against people at home’.
THE uncertainty, anxiety and stress that come with elections in Nigeria are triggering mental disorders in politicians vying for public offices, experts have declared to Saturday Tribune.
According to the experts, the signs of such mental disorders are not limited to irritability, verbal or physical aggression and distress.
The president of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), Professor James Obindo, stressed the implications of pre-election activities for the mental health of politicians, especially those without realistic expectations and those without adequate resilience because they are from privileged, pampered or overindulged backgrounds.
“It is quite challenging and those whose health is on the balance can actually be impacted because there is a thin line between mental illnesses and mental health. The stress of campaign and the outcome of the polls can actually tilt them towards becoming mentally ill.
“For those who have had mental illnesses before and are coping and doing fairly well, the stress of electioneering, the campaigns and a negative result of election may trigger a relapse of their mental condition,” Professor Obindo said.
He described the current election period in Nigeria as “a moment of epidemic of mental health problems among politicians and the electorate alike.”
The medical expert said: “More than 30 per cent of the electorate are also at the risk of developing mental disorders due to the pressures of life and security issues like banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery.
“Imagine the anger and trauma at filling stations and ATM points because of fuel scarcity and cash crunch. Some people have developed depression. So many other mental illnesses can actually become precipitated in people who were previously without mental problems.”
According to Professor Obindo, politicians who refrain from treating underlying medical conditions like hypertension and diabetes also risk developing complications from non-communicable diseases like stroke and heart failure during an election period such as this.