He exudes so much Yoruba courtesies, with the ease of an ‘ibile’ (home-grown) that it is mind-burgling to have this 21 year old British-Yoruba part 2 medical student, a new patient in this acute psychiatric ward, diagnosed with psychosis, specifically schizophrenia, as well as paranoia. This is not ‘African-Magic; it is a heart wrenchingly pitiable sight to behold.His great genius arrived before him and consisted of phenomenal passes and academic achievements erstwhile earned. They constituted a sizeable chunk of his profile which had been securely encrypted and fore-run as I’ve already mentioned.
Day one at admissions, this child (…and I perfectly know he’s a grown man in the eyes of the law, but please indulge me to call him‘Child’) wore an expression and ambiance of fear and trepidation. Accompanied by a police officer, mum a school teacher and dad an RMN, ‘Child’ stood his ground and maintained a good distance away from his parents. He successfully insisted for this to be upheld by the medics and the law. ‘Child’ repeatedly delusion-ally called his parents single-horned demons whom he claimed were only waiting for auspicious opportunities to terminate him thereby aborting his divinely ordained mission in this world. Mum winced every time ‘Child’ dealt this ‘blow’ and many a hearts present empathised within.‘Child’ was the first of three children who according to both parents was an everyday type of child; quiet, sensible and polite. He had reportedly always been great at his studies and sailed with no hitches to uni. According to mum, serious questions about Child’s mental health stability arose recently when a friend at uni raised concerns with social services, reporting that ‘Child’ was increasingly neglectful of his personal care, withdrawn or avoiding of social interactions which increasingly included lecturers on zoom.‘Child’ increasingly too, made off-point contributions at lessons when he attended.Placed immediately on antipsychotics, vit B complex, thiamine and cholecalciferol tabs, as well as zopiclone tablet in the evening, Child’s demeanour significantly improved within 48 hours of his admission. Those eerie facial expressions he had relaxed and his hunched shoulders also relaxed to near-normalcy.In-house family therapist, Adam, soon put an end to many of our questions and enabled psychology and occupational therapies to be formulated and tailored to Child’s immediate needs.
The following profile emerged of Child’s late adolescence manifestation of mental health problems. You will find them and a few others I have listed helpful for spotting signs of mental illness in your child:
• Mum reflected that Child was a very quiet child and teen, whom in retrospect may be considered by some as unusually quiet and contentedly disengaged from his environment
• Child occasionally expressed superior surreal ideations of being a rescuer who was on a divine mission to emancipate the oppressed.
• Child could be excessively devastated whenever he failed at anything. He went into lengthy periods of depression at such times.• Child readily and happily avoided and withdrew from social interactions.
• Child, particularly in late adolescence, demonstrated more than normal interest in death and afterlife issues.
•Sometimes Child exhibited disproportionate levels of irritability and diet restrictions.
• Child explained his food restrictions away as ‘fasting’ and as a form of spiritual cleansing or ablution.
Mental health problems are very easily missed in children and adolescents. This is due amongst other factors to the characteristic psychological and physical nature of these unstable periods of human development.
Many parents, overbearing siblings and relations call child-sufferers troublesome, doomed and demonic.
The good news for ‘Child’ is that he is currently in the hands of non-judgemental physicians and therapies. His parents are equally receiving social therapies to enable them parent and nurture more empathetically.Now to you my readers – is it mentally well with your child? Can they be mental at times?
Omoru is a freelance writer, education, health and social care advocate