By Morayo Koku.
There’s a belief that has been used to forge those born and bred in Nigeria since the day of their birth.
This ideology is uttered by Nigerians to foreigners, one another and to themself when they’re alone.
It’s usually coming in words like “if you can survive Nigeria then you can survive anything the world throws at you.”
These words might serve as a coping mechanism because of the understanding that residing in Nigeria will task your mental health in unimaginable ways.
Transport fare, electricity tariff, price of petrol/diesel, insecurity, weakening Naira, the price of basic food necessities like pepper and onions and now its newest member the university tuition fees, are amongst the things that make the average Nigerians heart skip at least a little.
This is due to the significant increase in prices, growing inflation rate and stagnation of salaries. Truly, bearing these trials could toughen or break the mind.
How long can these ideologies keep the people going?
Students are faced not only with the anxiety of surviving the economic realities of the country but another financial stress of the recent tuition hike.
On another note, there is another popular saying that goes “health is wealth”. This includes the privilege of mental health. Whilst tackling the struggles, it is easy to overlook mental wellbeing even though it enables people to make smart decisions.
Effects of Financial Burdens on Mental Health.
According to research, these financial stresses allow vulnerability to mental health problems such as anxiety, loneliness, depression, poor sleep, poor self-esteem, shame, anger, fear, substance abuse, in extreme cases suicidal thoughts and so one. This can lead to low academic performance and retention.
The University of Southampton and Solent NHS Trust revealed that students who experience financial burdens have a higher chance of suffering from depression and alcohol dependence.
In order to make beneficial decisions that improve situations both academically, financially and with the relationship we have with others, it is paramount to prioritize mental wellbeing.
The hike in fees paired with poor grades due to the neglect of mental care is a cycle that has unpalatable results which can be avoided.
Ways to Care for Your Mental Health.
One way students can care for their mental health is to connect to friends and family. In the journey of handling the financial pressure, it is significantly helpful finding any individual that will be there when tired or someone with similar situations.
This is because having the company of a person/people who are actively looking to better any situation they are in through positive means and strong character traits gives room for an individual to lean on a quality support system of friends and family if there is some turbulence.
By doing this, if faced with a setback one can talk to understanding individuals that are able to provide support even if it’s by saying the popular words “we go run am” or “we move”.
It is better having some good support than no support at all. Finding these people will depend on what the priority is.
Another way to mitigate the effects of the financial burden is to visit the counseling unit.
There are skilled professionals ready to give practical advice on how to handle situations in academic and non-academic areas. Paying the high tuition gives access to utilize the service provided by the university.
The objective of this unit is to enhance the emotional and psychological states of the students.
The Counselling Centre is located at the first floor of the University Bookshop building and directly opposite the Post Office.
Find more information about the counselling center at https://unilag.edu.ng/?page_id=3803
Personal finance and budgeting are another means to ease the weight of the financial stress and lead to a better mental health.
In the current economic situation, it is easy to spend as you go because of unforeseen expenses. It may be difficult to adjust to tracking and setting limits on what is spent but this is a decision that will be better in the long run. This is inclusive of all amounts of money.
One of the best tools for reducing spending, and knowing where money is spent by tracking and budgeting where the money goes.
It’s always surprising where we spend money and most people don’t realize how much they spend on unnecessary things. It can also reduce the likelihood of being short on money if the budget is strictly followed.
Budgeting involves allocating where the money goes to, tracking and managing the finances. This can be done by using a financial tracking app or a spreadsheet.
To get more information on budgeting for Nigerian students watch https://youtu.be/O3HjAGF9jC4
In the light of finance, students who do not have extra sources of income can look to apply for the Work-Study program provided by the university.
Students can also bring in extra income by tutoring, utilizing a skill such as hair braiding, tailoring, graphic design, programming, cooking and if possible, logistics. Several other options can be explored.
Closely monitoring the news and events concerning the university can keep individuals informed about available scholarships and skill acquisition training.
For information about the financial aid measures read https://unilagsun.com.ng/unilag-establishes-financial-aid-measures/ and make enquiries at the Counselling Unit.
Manage social media consumption. Undoubtedly, individuals who expose themself to majorly depressing content risk weakening their mental health. Therefore, students should consume social media with discretion and with purpose.
If this is a primary means of relaxation then other healthier means can be adopted such as utilizing the subsidized training services at the sports center, pursuing spiritual growth and volunteering to help a non government organization that has values that serve a good cause, amongst others.
These are a few steps which can be taken by students to care for their mental health. It is important to recognize that if the mind is not in check it will be difficult handling academic activities, career activities and even personal life.
This does not symbolize weakness but an acceptance of the reality that humans can not only face physical illness but mental illness. Individuals make actionable decisions to care for their body because work cannot be done if it is in a bad state. This is the same case with the mind.