Elegbeleye a. O. Department of psychology covenant university, ota



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PREDICTORS OF THE MENTAL HEALTH OF ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN IN NIGERIA

BY

ELEGBELEYE A. O.

DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

COVENANT UNIVERSITY, OTA

Abstract


An individual’s ability to work productively, attain self-actualization, and make useful contribution to his or her community is a function of his or her mental health. Poor mental health has the capacity to interfere with an individual’s ability to function adequately across all areas of life. It has however been shown that the consequences of poor mental health in childhood extend into adulthood, which clearly indicates that a healthy mental development in childhood is of utmost importance. Children who are victims of circumstances stand the risk of being exposed to experiences that could negatively affect their mental health thereby robbing them of the opportunity of a healthy mental development in childhood and a healthy mental status in adulthood. This paper therefore looked at the mental health of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), the factors that can predict their mental health, and what to be done to improve their experiences, which can in turn, improve their mental health.
Key words: Mental health, Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC)


Introduction

“Health is wealth.” This is a phrase that is unanimously agreed on all over the globe. Health is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2011). The maintenance and promotion of health is achieved through different combination of physical, mental, and social well-being, together sometimes referred to as the "health triangle" (Nutter, 2003). Health is a combination of physical health, mental health, and social health (Yadav, 2010). Physical health is the general condition of a person in all aspects. It is also a level of functional and/or metabolic efficiency of an organism; Mental health is a term used to describe either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder; Social health refers to the health of a person in reference to his or her ability to interact with others and thrive in social settings. The physical, mental, and social health of a person are related to one another. Depreciation in any one of the three factors can lead to depreciation in the other two, thus in turn depreciating the complete health of a person (Yadav, 2010).

However, the maintenance of mental health appears to be most crucial to the maintenance of the other aspects of the human health. It has been noted that the body responds to the way individuals think, feel and act, which is often referred to the “mind/body connection.” When there is a breakdown in mental health, the physical health, as well as the social health tends to suffer more. Poor mental health, for instance, can weaken the body’s immune system, and it has been linked with deterioration in physical health. Also, an individual with poor mental health may lack the ability to thrive in social settings. In another vein, a sound mental health is synonymous to a sound mind and a sound mind is synonymous to productivity and achievement in crucial aspects of an individual’s life. The importance of mental health can thus not be overemphasized.




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