Interviews

”WHY MORE NIGERIANS ARE BECOMING SUICIDAL”LAGOS PYSCHIATRIST DR. KADIRI

Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri popularly referred to as “THE CELEBRITY SHRINK,” is a multi-awards winning Physician and a Fellow of the National Post-Graduate Medical College of Nigeria (FMCPsych) as a Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist with over 10 years experience in practice.She is the Medical Director of Pinnacle Medical Services, a health and wellness center dealing on psychological, emotional, behavioural, and mental health related issues. A Goldman Sachs Scholar on Entrepreneurial Management, with the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the Lagos Business School (LBS), Pan Atlantic University. Also, a graduate of the China European International Business School, CEIBS on Entrepreneurial Management.

She is a trained and certified Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist from Albert Ellis Institute, New York, USA. Also a certified Trauma Counsellor, sexual and reproductive health expert, Occupational health and safety Physician and Neurofeedback Practitioner. An expert trainer on stress and stress management for individuals and organizations. A motivational speaker, life coach, author, mentor, mental health advocate and a mother of 3 lovely children.
Dr. Kadiri has wide experience in psycho-therapeutic techniques and has perfected her skills whilst in private practice and whilst working for a variety of organizations. She is a recognized radio and television guest Psychiatrist/Psychotherapist. She also contributes to articles published in magazines and newspapers.
She has attended several local and international Continuous Professional Development Courses and Training Programmes. In recognition of her outstanding leadership and performance in the field of psychological and mental health, she was selected for a Course on the Development of Leadership and Professional Skills for Young Psychiatrists in year 2011, a World Health Organization affiliated programme. Also received the Women of Achievement Award by Afenmai News Magazine, 2014. Organizational Impact Award by the China European International Business School, CEIBS in 2015 and inducted as an International Fellow by the American Psychiatric Association, APA in Toronto, 2015. A recipient of Cherie Blair foundation on financial literacy for women in business. Also, a YOUWIN awardee by FGN. A Vital Voices Grow Fellow and a recent recipient of Tony Elumelu Enterprenuership foundation, TEEP .Dr. Kadiri’s knowledge in the field of psychiatry and psychology also provides her a sound foundation for her teaching practice. She has facilitated the development of “School Based Psychological and Mental Health Programmes” in some nursery/primary/secondary schools around the Lagos metropolis, as part of her community mental health advocacy activities. She is also involved in “Counseling Skills Training in Adolescent Sexuality and Reproductive Health” in secondary schools.

She has developed a strong practice in the area of Employee Assistance and Counseling Programme, which entails consultations on employee performance problems, workplace interpersonal conflict management challenges, team building and other behavioral issues that have negative impacts on productivity.She is the Founder of a non for profit organization, “Pinnacle Medicals SPEAKOUT INITIATIVE” which is geared towards creating awareness on psychological and mental health related problems in Nigeria and beyond.

She is a member of several professional and social organizations, including, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Society of Occupational and Environmental Health Physicians of Nigeria (SOEHPON), Women In Management and Business, Nigeria (WIMBIZ), American Psychiatric Association(APA), Medical Women Association, Employee Assistance Programme Association, (EAPA), and Ikoyi club, 1938.In an Exclusive interview with City People’s VIVIAN ONUORAH, she speaks extensively on mental health.
Can you tell us more about Dr Maymunah Kadiri?

Am a consultant Neuro Pyschiatristand pyscho therapist.I also run a health and wellness centre Pinnacle Medical Services.We deal on pyschological, emotional, behavioural and mental related issues.

Can you reflect more on the popular notion by mental health doctors that one out of every 5 Nigerian is prone to a mental health issue?

Researches have shown that one out of every 4 Nigerian will have a mental health related issue in his or her life time and these are documented researches from World Health Organization, so Nigeria is not left out and we can actually see it happening right now, there are so many mental health related issues that people are dealing with on a day to day basis.The centre can no longer hold for many people and things are falling apart, we have a high rate of people commiting suicide these days,getting depressed and all that so we are not far from this studies and it may even be worse.For depression,one out of every 5 Nigerian is depressed and the bad thing about depression is that it is highly linked to suicide and right now suicide has become like a common thing in Nigeria and it wasnt like this before.Right now we are having increasing cases of people wanting to jump off the bridge,taking drug overdose and we are obviously seeing these factors in the system so its not something we are arguing about,it is there staring us in the faces.The stress level is now very high,a lot of challenges from relationship issues to family issues,work related problems and marital problems,dysfunctional family setting.Mental health is highly needed in our society right now and people need to understand that mental health related problems is real but the good thing is that it is treatable just like hypertension and diabetes.

At this rate right now,what is the way forward,what do you advise every Nigerian should do to maintain a stable mental health?

The truth is some of us are prone to having mental health related problem because one it runs in families,but you can learn the trigger factors and then try as much as possible to take yourself away from the equation that affects you.Reduce your stress level, have healthy relationship, be in control of your life and emotions.Anything that is beyond your control just let it go.People are sometimes bothered about some irrelevances that could impact negatively on their health.As much as possible, do what you can do within your reach and leave the rest.Have realistic, achieavable goals,break them down and dont take too much more than you can control.Stress is one factor that 95% of cases I see as a primary health physician and its becoming higher these days.The challenges are not going to go away just because you are thinking about it but how you navigate them will either make or mar you.So we are encouraging every Nigerians to learn to manage their stress level so they can maintain a healthy mental stability.

Stress is something that wont go away and people cant help not having stress,how then do you advice Nigerians to cope with the stress?

They should be more productive rather than being busy.There is a difference between being productive and busy.Let me give you an example.We have the e-commerce system these days,you must not run around to go buy things just because they are cheaper at Idumota.You can simply order and they deliver to you,that is just one example of how to reduce stress.We shouldnt be on the road,traffic for 4 to 5 hours just because you want to get something cheaper,if you can,avoid that traffic.The rule is you must know yourself because for every individual,if you understand yourself, your stress level and how you can deal with it,you will be able to tell yourself this is the limit I can go.We should be able to say no,dont take on more than you can do just because you want to please someone or make someone happy and then make yourself unhappy.Happiness should come from within,its not about your relationship or your job, you should learn to be happy and have your “ME”time.It enables you to de stress, re energise and renew yourself.There are opportunities out there but if you are not emotionally,physically, spiritually and mentally grounded, you wont be able to go out there and achieve anything.So please,people working at optimal level should know that stress can be able to break them down, do what you can and leave the rest.

Are there some habits or medical practises that can help one reduce stress level?

yes we have healthy life style changes that can help people, for example drinking more water to avoid dehydration, eat healthy meal and dont starve yourself just because you want to lose weight, please sleep well It is very important.Have healthy hobbies like go to movies, go for massage, and always stay around people who can uplift you ,people who can impact positively on you rather than people who will always make you see things in a negative way.There are so many healthy habits you can develop within yourself that can help you but the truth is that it all boils down to you the individual ,know what is healthy for you and dont exceed your limit.

What are some warning signals that tells you ,you are depressed?

There are quite a number of warning signals that ranges from not being happy,not just for a day or two but prolonged sadness for a minimum of two weeks,secondly if your energy level starts to drop drastically also for a minimum of two weeks, when you start loosing interest in things you usually loved to do,these are the major symptons and the minor symptons includes not sleeping at all,over sleeping , not eating at all and over eating,poor concentration and attention, getting tired easily,sometimes you start feeling hopeless or worthless and when it gets to the point where you are begining to feel hopeless,that is when people start feeling suicidal and about 850,000 to 1m people die annually from suicide.Research has it that for every 40 seconds, someone is dying of suicide and this is one condition that people need to understand and the fact that you are having these symptons ,you shouldnt over look it and say its a spiritual attack.Please prayers complement medical treatment, even research shows that people who are more spiritually minded get well faster than those who dont believe in anything.SO lets learn these warning signs,even if you are not experiencing it and you see a friend who is,help the person get treatment.

 Suicide appears to be the peak of depression,at what point of your state of depression do you now realise you are becoming suicidal?

People dont just know they are becoming suicidal,suicide is in stages and it comes with an idea at first, a thought like am feeling worthless,am tired of living this life ,then you start planning it before you execute it but for some people its like a snap and it comes acutely and they just take their life without any thoughts but most times, it comes with a plan.That is why people drop suicide notes and leave hints in most cases.Some know they are becoming suicidal and if they dont have love around them,they just believe people dont love them and they dont care, so what is the use of living.Sometimes you may know and sometimes you may not know and that is when relatives come into the picture,when they observe you have started acting dangerously either harming yourself or trying to harm someone else.Also they can go into dangerous habits all of a sudden.

How can one help someone who has become suicidal?

Just show them love, dont try to criticise the person.Listen more to the person and talk less.Help take them to that person whom they hold dear and can listen to.Pay them a lot of attention and please dont criticise them at that point no matter what,because they need all the love they can get at that point.

Lets talk about your career ,how long have been practising as a pyschiatrist ?

I did my training for 6 years at Yaba Psychiatric Hospitalbetween 2005 to 2012 but I registered Pinnacle Medical Services in 2011 because I knew what I wanted and I have been running the medical center since 2012.I started it after I left Yaba Psychiatric Hospital and its strictly an entreprenurialship venture,its my baby and am passionately running it because I know there is a deficit.We have one pyschiatrist to 1million Nigerians and its a huge deficit but the most important thing is for us to create that awarness about reducing the stigma and giving help to people who do not want to patronise public services .We are avaliable to provide private services althouhg people feel they are too expensive but the truth is health is not cheap anywhere.Even these Indian doctors people patronise dont come cheap but we try as much as possible to give reasonable service to people because we know they need it.It hasnt been easy because we are trying to create awarness and its a huge toll on me even as a female running a mental health facility but I had to equip myself.I have been to 2 business schools and am a doctor but I had to go acquire that business skills and that has really helped me.Its not just about the passion I have for mental health but also the expertise and the fact that I know we need it in this society.

Why did you opt for Psychiatrics?

Infact, when I decided to go for this ,nobody wanted to support me even my head but psychiatric is a medicine for the past ,present and future.I am very passionate about people’s mental well being.That is my passion.Health is wealth but there is no health without mental health.It is about my passion and then turning the passion into a profitable portfolio.

As a pyschiatric doctor,approximately how many patients are admitted per day?

In a week its about a minimum of 2 to 3 patients,and about 6 in a month.Also technology helps people go online and search for us and call us becasue they want private services.But when I was still at Yaba Hospital,we could see about 20 new cases in a week,it is that high and Yaba is over 500 beded hospital.Most times it is fully booked.These cases are there it is just that because of the stigma,people lock them in doors because they dont want to be stigmatised that they have somebody with mental health problem in their home.

You recently premiered a new movie Pepper Soup to create awareness on mental health,can you talk about that?
The movie titled Pepper Soup is one of the things we are bringing on board under pinnacle medical services ,under the Pinnacle speakout Initiative,our non government organization platform under Pinnacle medical services and we very visual people.We want to identfiy with real life situations and there are so many stories Nigerians can really understand,its not just about creating a scenario off the head.We want to showcase real life situations that people have dealt with and survived.Its not about that mad man on the street,they are just 0ne percent of those with mental health problem.Pepper Soup movie is one out of the series of mioves we want to use to create mental health awarness in Africa.

You recently launched a mental health app called KnowIt,what is it all about?

The “KnowIt” App is an app that enables you to check your mental well being and assesment on your mobile devices and it consists the different health assesment under mental health.We have the addiction, anxiety, depression and we have articles that people can aslo read and understand what is happening in our locality.It is something people should download from their android,blackberry,IOS and windows platform.It is free and you can use it as a preventive measure and also for maintanace if you are depressed .Also the Pinnacle online health radio,which is like the traffic radio where people call to know what is happening ,so we are trying to bridge the gap.We serve as first aiders by providing easy mental health care assistance.They call us we tell them what to do and we direct them to the appropriate facilities within their locality ,we are like getting emergency health care to people on time.

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