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Psychological evaluation of employees, armed services personnel should be continuous

–Dr. Maymunah Kadiri, psychologist

By ENYERIBE EJIOGU

Following the tragic death of Solape Oladipupo, an Aircraftwoman in the Nigerian Air Force, Dr. Maymunah Kadiri, a Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist and medical director of Pinnacle Medical Services, which is a health and wellness center dealing on psychological, behavioural, and mental health related issues, in an interview with Sunday Sun shed light on the lessons to be learnt from the incident and advised that the country needs to put in place a deliberate policy of conducting psychological evaluation of people in all walks of life. She is a trained and certified Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist from Albert Ellis Institute, New York, United States of America.

In the light of the development, should military authorities begin to conduct psychological evaluation of recruits?

The truth is that psychological evaluation shouldn’t just be a one off evaluation. It should be done before, during and ongoing for people whether as a military person or civilian. The reason for this is that a prior psychological evaluation before entering the force can be indicative of predisposing factor to what the individual would have gone through earlier in life. While during the working years or career period, precipitating factor(s) can affect him/her, which can lead the individual acting irrationally. Example, work induced stress, substance abuse, among others. In all, I will rather support a total wellness program that will capture prior evaluation, during working years with requisite information on how to manage our psychological and mental wellbeing because health is wealth and there is no health without mental health.

What lessons can be learnt from this tragic incident?

It’s a sad incident and must not be left to die without justice taking place. From this story, we learnt the officer was obsessed with this young lady and accused her of having affair with other officers, hence the killing. Then went on Facebook and wrote that he will kill himself which he never did. These behavioral patterns wouldn’t have just started now, hence the reason why we should be our brother’s keeper, not only paying lip service or trivializing issues of people that may obviously need our help. Talk is cheap, but action saves lives. Putting in place a prior psychological evaluation for employees and random screening for substance abuse should be looked into in the workplace. Most importantly, all institutions should have workplace mental health as a policy to reduce incidents like this. This will not only help in building healthy workers and workplaces, but also reduce the stigma attached to mental health and people living with mental illnesses. This will enable people to talk freely about their emotional health and promote help seeking behavior in the workplace.

How can parents play a role in preventing this kind of tragedy?

Hmmm, parental role begins the moment you decide you want to be a parent. Parents are to nurture their children till adulthood or until they are mature enough as adults (in Nigeria, it’s from 21 years). At this point, the children can legally take decisions without parental involvement. What parents can and should do is continuous support and guidance to their children. Make them their friends that the children can share their issues with. Parents can also help prevent issues like this by seeking for counseling for their children if they notice any behavioral problem(s) that can’t be explained. They should know that being in denial and wishing it away wouldn’t help. Rather it could lead to a disaster. In addition, effective communication and education on general life issues can also be a preventive measure. Parents have to be intentionally and consciously be role models for their children. Like I always say, it’s easier, cheaper and more productive to nurture a healthy and happy child than manage a damaged adult.

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