Chronic depression is a global issue and mental health campaigns have garnered worldwide support recently. When it comes to Africa’s largest economy the scaled is quite unprecedented. World Bank Researchers have shown that 22 per cent of Nigerians are chronically depressed on average.
The study elucidates that chronic depression in Nigeria can be linked to economic outcomes in the labour markets; as well as to human capital investments. Although quite obvious, chronic depression in Nigeria is more prevalent in heavy-conflict areas as these populations try to recover from all sorts of traumatic events. These events however, have varying degrees of effects on individuals.
For example, less than 30 per cent of household heads who are affected by a family death or a community shock (such as droughts) are chronically depressed. This contrasts with more than 50 per cent of household heads affected by conflicts; this rate of depression is more than twice the national average.World Bank Report
Being in the bottom 30 per cent of the income distribution is positively associated with chronic depression. Even worse, adverse events affecting these households add another 10 percentage points to the probability of having a chronically depressed household head. Poverty and shocks go hand in hand.World Bank Report
Chronic depression have both household and economic effects; but these effects are more telling for children.
Some keen deductions from the report are as follows:
1)Families with a chronically depressed parent spend nearly $30 (in current terms) less in educational expenses annually, driven by lower investments among older girls between 12 and 18 years of age.
2)Younger children (particularly girls) between five and 11 years of age who live with a chronically depressed parent are 2.5 percentage points more likely to work.
3)With almost two out of every five Nigerians affected by shocks, deaths, and/or conflicts (key drivers of chronic depression), further understanding these costs and linkages is essential.
4)According to the report, conflict- and shock-mitigating policies (related, for example, to insurance, prices, and security) may have far higher economic impacts than what is traditionally measured.
Solutions Must Not Be Delayed
The World Bank states that:
Thus, policymakers should take the potential amplified costs of adverse events into account when making these decisions. Last, it is of utmost importance to integrate solutions in mental health policies to provide psychological support to affected populations.
These policies may include implementing mental health and psychosocial programmers; which have been tested in similar settings, and changing the social norms related to communication about and treatment of depression and depressive and stress symptoms. By directly treating and minimising the effects of depression experienced by victims of conflicts; deaths and shocks, we may help mitigate these incidents’ overall economic impact in society.World Bank Report