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Consultant psychiatrist warns politicians against risk of developing serious emotional turmoil 




By Esenvosa Izah
Lagos, Feb. 17, 2019 (NNN) A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Tomi Imarah, has urged politicians to learn to accept the outcomes of an election in order to avoid developing risk of serious emotional turmoil or mental health challenges.

Imarah, who runs an online mental health counselling service called “Dr , Tomi Haven”, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NNN) on Sunday in Lagos.

According to her, politicians that lose elections have a higher risk of developing mental illnesses.

“Also, politicians who won elections were at risk of developing mental illness.

“We often assume that politicians have accepted the defeat, graciously or otherwise, and have moved on with their lives.

“You will be surprised to learn that they are often at risk of serious emotional turmoil or mental health challenges.

“They have experienced a unique sense of public humiliation and are likely to strongly internalise it as a sign of personal failure.

“Just like the rest of us, they are not immune from experiencing symptoms of depression.

“They include low mood, low energy, poor motivation, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, poor self-esteem, diminished confidence, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness,“ she said.

The consultant psychiatrist said that many of the decisions that would be taken in the office were likely to take significant psychological toll on political candidates, especially during the first year of their tenure.

“Dr Ashley Weinberg of the Psychology Department, Salford University, United Kingdom, conducted a 15-year prospective study of Westminster Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK.

“His research revealed that many of the MPs had psychological strain, sleep difficulties, exhaustion and persistent fatigue for a year or more after entering office, despite being free of these symptoms before election.

“Nigeria is not immune from these kinds of outcomes; the pressure of the work elected leaders will be taken on is enormous and the lifestyle changes are drastic.

“Also, the impact of failure on candidates who are not elected is potentially enormous and clinically perilous.

“Yet, there is no formal assessment of the resilience and coping mechanisms of electoral candidates before elections and no provisions for psychological support throughout their tenure, should they win, or after the elections, should they lose,“ Imarah said.

She said that there was a need to regularly, but discreetly, assess politicians’ mental health.

“This is very important, because the selfless service of these elected leaders should not be allowed to jeopardise their own emotional wellbeing and mental stability.

“It is also crucial that the country ensures that they have a healthy frame of mind to make decisions that will be in the nation’s best interest.

“Though, there are less than 1,000 psychiatrists in the entire country of 190 million citizens, I recommend that government constitute a specialised team of psychiatrists to discreetly assess electoral candidates before and after elections.

“They will be required to provide ongoing mental health support to elected officials throughout their tenures.

“They will also provide candidates that were not successful in the elections with psychological support, as the need arises.

“When our leaders enjoy continued emotional wellbeing and mental stability, the nation and its people are safe,“ she said. (NNN)

Edited by Olagoke Olatoye