In many countries, May is
designated Mental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. It is encouraging to see
the stigma gradually being chipped away, but there is still much work to be done.
Although any form of stress
can take its toll on your health, stress related to financial problems can be
especially toxic and is one of the worst forms of stress. The Coronavirus and the
subsequent lockdown are having a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of individuals,
households, businesses, communities and national economies.
Financial troubles come in so many forms; no one could ever have
predicted the sheer magnitude of this global pandemic let alone the financial
turmoil that it would bring. Most Nigerians are currently facing a very
uncertain time with both personal and business finances in distress resulting
in intense stress and anxiety.
are some tell-tale signs that we should all look out for that must be addressed
before they become chronic and put one in danger of stress-related behaviors
and illnesses. These include headaches and migraines, insomnia, panic attacks,
feelings of lethargy, aggression, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence,
depression and suicidal thoughts.
problems must be tackled head-on, otherwise they fester and become critical. Here
are some of the most challenging problems families are currently facing:
gulps a huge amount out of already stretched incomes. Landlords depend on their
rental income, so naturally must request for prompt payment. You might have
lived in a house for years and have become accustomed to a certain status and
standard of living in a particular neighborhood, but you simply can’t afford to
renew the rent.
your landlord to negotiate more affordable terms. Landlords too, as far as
possible, should consider tenants at this time who are suffering a shutdown of
businesses with little or no income. Communication and mutual understanding
should help; becoming a sitting tenant is not a solution, it only leads to
acrimony and additional stress for both parties.
honest with yourself; if you cannot afford to live in a particular
neighborhood, you should consider either moving to a smaller, less expensive property,
or move out of the area into one that you can afford.
fees are one of the largest expenses that parents face over several years. With
the loss of jobs and incomes, the next few semesters are likely to be
challenging for those without an educational plan in place. Even where there
may be a slight drop in fees as schools move online for the foreseeable future,
many parents must invest in equipment and devices to make it possible for their
children to continue to learn efficiently and effectively from home.
money is tight, as it is for most, your choices wont be easy. You can either
leave the child closest to major exams in the school, transfer the others to a
more affordable option, or move them all. Remember the most expensive school is
not necessarily the best one for your child. What is more important is to find
a school that has decent standards and faculty, and even if it doesn't have all
the frills, one that you can afford. Most important is the investment you make
in parenting at home.
many families, there is simply no money to fund their children’s education. Without
benefactors, older children may either have to defer the completion of their
studies for a season, whilst they earn and contribute to their own education, or
can take advantage of part-time or evening classes.
positive fallout of this global pandemic is that it has opened up a whole new
vista of opportunity in the education space with exceptional possibilities for
online learning. It is worth exploring these as an alternative solution at
course, there will be a psychological impact from any sudden change for you and
your family, but cutting back drastically on such major expenses such as school
and housing will reduce the pressure and certainly alleviate the seemingly
insurmountable burden of huge bills.
So many have borrowed for business and personal
reasons. Debt will not go away until you tackle
it head on and give it the necessary attention it deserves. Start with the most
urgent or the most expensive debt. Where your debt is becoming overwhelming, approach
your lenders and be honest about your
difficulties; you may be able to negotiate a more palatable
repayment plan. Some friends or relatives might even write off part or all of
the debt because of your transparency.
are ways to protect yourself during challenging times. Health insurance matters
more than ever now. Embedded in some life policies are unemployment benefits
that will help cushion the effect of unemployment for a time. Your insurance premium
is one financial expense that mustn’t lapse. You have assets of value that will
be difficult to replace; your car, your home, your possessions. Insurance will give
much relief should anything happen.
you get sick, not from Covid-19, but from any another illness, do you have medical
insurance in place or do you have to pay up in cash at a time when your income
is already strained. Medical attention
must be available if you need it so that festering problems do not become real
emergencies. Don't wait for an unfortunate incident before you recognize the
need for insurance. The insurance premium is a small price to pay to protect
yourself and your loved ones and gain much needed peace of mind.
It is so important to seek help if you are
feeling overwhelmed and have difficulty coping mentally and emotionally. The
last thing you should be doing now is to withdraw and keep the feelings of
despair in. This is the time to call a close friend or member of your family
that you can trust and confide in. Many churches or mosques have a welfare team
who provide online counseling for members during such challenging times. Professional
counselling services are also available.
You cannot wish away the
enormous problems; serious financial challenges require concrete action. This
includes cutting back on non-essential expenses, changing your spending habits,
seeking ways to increase income including leveraging on and monetizing your
talents and skills, selling some assets you don't need or borrowing as a last
If you have been caught out without an emergency fund this time,
make this the first thing you put in place when things improve. Start to build
a cushion of about six months of your basic expenses. By setting aside a
buffer, should you face a financial emergency, you will be better able to ride
is so important not to be embarrassed by your financial situation. This
difficult time will pass, and you cannot afford to break down totally which will
only make the situation worse and put you and your family into a far more
Ultimately it is through financial discipline that you can
overcome financial challenges and times of economic uncertainty. This
requires the development of a long-term financial plan, focus, and commitment
to change for it to last.
Financial health and mental health are so closely intertwined. With sound
financial health, peace of mind is more likely. At least, there is one less
thing to worry about.
The theme for Mental health Awareness week which runs
from 18th - 24th May 2020, is “kindness”; it gives focus to the power and potential of
kindness. Protecting our mental health is going to be an important aspect of national
healing and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic; psychological and social
scars tend to outlast the physical manifestations.
One positive outcome of this ordeal is that the Coronavirus
is unlocking our shared humanity. Kindness is at the centre of our health; both
physical and mental, and it heals both the giver and the recipient. Be kind to
everyone that has the privilege of crossing your path, and most of all, don't
forget to be kind to yourself.