Husainat Bakare | Mental Health Advocate
Your Favorite TV Show(s)? - Law & Order: SVU
Badé Obasa: I shared how the past 3 years were my dark years. Part of that is because I experienced symptoms of depression which affected different areas of my life such as my identity, vision, appetite & more. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I know you share a lot about mental health care and stigmas? What is mental health? Why is it important to you?
Husainat Bakare: Yes, I do. I think it’s a way for me to share what I know with everyone and hoping it helps all of us in our daily lives. Mental health is simply wellness of the mind. It’s really important to nurture and care for your mind as it impacts our emotions, feelings, behaviour and thoughts. In essence, your mental well-being dictates a lot in how you live & lead your life.
BO: Growing up in Nigeria, there were and (still) are stigmas around mental health & it’s disorders around the Nigerian/African community. What do you think is the reason for this?
HB: I think a lot of the stigma in Nigeria is due to conditioning, misinformation and religious beliefs. I think our society has been conditioned to repress feelings and ‘tough it up’. Regarding misinformation, there is this big misconception that mental health = mental disorders and that mental disorders are due to not being spiritual/religious enough or are as a result of ‘going to the abroad/following what they say in the abroad’. Hence, mental disorders are characterized as spiritual issues and ‘western problems.’
Your Greatest Pet Peeves? - People burping & chewing loudly around me
BO: How can we unlearn, learn and relearn behavioural patterns to help us not just increase awareness in advocacy but show more compassion in the way we treat all kinds of people?
HB: Honestly, seeking mental health professionals and social media platforms that support positive mental health are great resources. There is a lot of advocacy and awareness work out there now and these are actually great resources to learn new things and unlearn things as well. I think being more knowledgeable increases understanding and this will help people be more compassionate in their treatment of everyone. Also, I think empathy is a great character trait to have & to work on to help with compassion. A few social media pages on Instagram that I personally like are @gmf.designs, @crazyheadcomics, @the.holistic.psychologist, @worrywellbeing, @stacieswift. All these pages share relatable and knowledgeable content that I enjoy.
If You Had A Superpower, What Would It Be And Why? - To Make Millions Of Dollars Every Month So I Can Jaiye (enjoy) lol
BO: What practical steps do you take to prioritize and nurture your mental health?
HB: Mainly doing things that make me happy like sleeping, watching TV shows, reading books, speaking to people I love and enjoy talking to, and therapy.
BO: It's amazing you mentioned therapy. Has it been helpful to you?
HB: Yes, it was and will always be helpful. While I highly recommend therapy, I acknowledge that a lot of people do not have access to it or simply cannot afford it. This is a reminder for the work that still needs to be done on accessibility but in the meantime, there are some free resources online/in communities that are similar to therapy and are beneficial. If anyone needs help gathering resources or finding something useful, please reach out ☺
BO: In this period of global uncertainty and every other day, what do you think people can do to take care of their mental health?
HB: This period has been hard on a lot (if not all) of us. For mental health care, I think everyone should practise self-care methods that they have found to be beneficial to them and their mental health. I personally have spent a lot of time sleeping, reading, talking to my loved ones (BIG s/o to technology), using some self-care apps like Headspace, Reflectly and MindPal, and catching up on my TV shows. On some days, I just do absolutely nothing. I have seen a lot of messages out there saying that it is important to come out of this quarantine an entrepreneur or something of that sort, but this is false. It is ok to take the time to care for yourself and if your self-care method for a day is to do nothing, it is very okay to do nothing.
I realize everyone is different and what works for me may not work for others, so I reached out to some friends and family and asked them to share how they have been dealing with their mental health during lockdown. I will share the responses below (some anonymous, some with names) and hopefully, these answers give someone out there a self-care idea or just a feeling of peace and togetherness that they are not alone in their feelings ☺
"Well I am actually very busy lol. I think the most important thing is to stay connected, and since I live with my family, we play games and watch shows together, and I FaceTime my friends. Also, I have taken the time to do some self-care activities like hair masks and skin care routines that I didn’t have time for before. Also, I started mediation which I find awesome. Of course, some days I just lie in my bed and do nothing lool" - Sabreen
"I guarded my heart from anything that could make me fearful e.g news, social media, fearful propaganda etc. I focused on my belief that the human race can simply not be erased by this virus and that we will come out stronger. I also took steps to protect myself and my family by eating well, maintaining good hygiene, exercising, and learnt some new things" - Anon
"I’ve been taking naps, talking to friends more and working out! I’ve also been connecting with God more" - Tiffany
"Well, I am doing okay actually. I think because I am surrounded by loved ones, everything seems better than it would have. In addition, not to hype myself but I am a very strong person mentally. I am not saying I don’t feel but I recover very quickly. If I didn’t have people around me during this period, I will usually distract myself by being productive, focusing on my growth as an individual or catching up with my loved ones online" - Anon
"A lot of sleep and repressing feelings oh" - Anon
"I personally have always seen this as an opportunity to do the things I have not been able to do - practise on my drawing and read books I’ve been holding on to. However, when I feel overwhelmed, I call allllll my friends 😂 deadass one by one & if my friends are busy, I call everyone in my family. Most importantly and I can’t stress this enough - that we do have a choice. To choose love and peace everyday & that’s what I have decided to choose" - Sophie
"I feel stressed. Working and homeschooling my kids at the same time is tough and hectic. But I have been trying to strike a balance and get as much rest as I can. I am also currently on antidepressants" - Anon
"Honestly, it’s been really tough for me since I’m such a social bug. My life before quarantine was busy busy busy. I was going out almost every weekend, planning social events such as games nights and group outings/ hang outs. The switch was pretty drastic, and it affected me in many ways. I’d randomly have mood swings, I’d be sad, then grumpy, then restless. It affected work too! My productivity level dropped drastically, as I have been working from home and having lots of network issues since all team meetings are via technology. Arrghhh. Frustrating. But then I decided to make a goal each week. This helped a lot! I started working out daily for 15-30 mins (I don’t usually work out), I started doing things I love, such as cooking and baking on a weekly basis, drawing and doing some graphics design. Additionally, when I’d get extremely bored and lazy, i'd make sure I call my friends and gist about any and everything or watch a show/ movie. But most importantly I’m using this period to think about myself, my life and restructure my goals. And when all things fail. I’d do my hair, put on make-up and take a drive to a nice view" - Anon
"Personally, I’ve been praying and journaling a lot. Anything I feel, I put it on paper. Less intake of news, but I check the Governors Instagram to find updates, so I am at least aware. I’ve been watching a lot of series and movies, which completely distract me from my reality. Also, learning a few things on YouTube like makeup and hair. Pretty much doing things that I love and things that can distract me. Also seeing my boyfriend weekly is very helpful, being in an atmosphere of love and care gives me true joy" - Yolanda
"Since I live alone I’m not getting a lot of in person human contact, so I make sure to keep in contact with my family and friends via text, FaceTime, social media in general. We’ve done games night on zoom, just random group calls, just to create that sense of support and community for me right now. I’m also acknowledging how I feel about the situation and validating my feelings about how this has changed how we live. Giving myself that space to be sad or hopeless about how things are going has let me process those emotions and try to move forward. I’ve also been doing yoga to help me since I know a lot of my mental stress shows up in physical symptoms. Just using it to meditate and get some calm but also physical exercise" - Lola