Lagos. Nigeria’s commercial center. That’s it. Maybe we should go from here, but when we remember why our mental health is important, we will continue.
Despite being the smallest state in the country, it is home to more than 25 million people and counting. To say it is unhealthily crowded is an understatement. With more than 8 million people moving in 5 million vehicles, Lagos roads are a hellish logjam. Coupled with the noise and polluted air, it’s no wonder it was ranked the 3rd most stressful city in the world in 2017.
Three years later, Lagos is still one of the worst places to live, taking a toll on the mental health of its residents.
To understand how stressful living in Lagos is, one only has to look at this tweet where a woman highlights her daily commute from her home in Mowe to her work in Ikate.
I got home at 3am this morning (Thanks to Lagos Traffic) and right now, I am at law school headed to work. Mind you, I live at Mowe, ibafo and I work at Ikate.
There's no excuse to success. You have to keep moving no matter what!!
— The Mowe-Ikate Girl (@TheIyinoluwa) September 10, 2020
For those who do not know, Mowe to Ikate is only about 59 km, and one can spend a ridiculous amount of time on the road due to Lagos traffic. Despite the fact that she is likely getting less than 3 hours of sleep every other day, she is hardly bothered, obviously meaning it to be some sort of motivational speech.
According to her, “there is no excuse for success”. There were a few people who sympathised and even related to her struggles, however, most Nigerians were quick to counter her argument.
If this is your daily routine, consider changing were you live or change the job. I can't see the hard work, spending quality hours inside traffic is not hard work.
— Dapsyn (@tweetDapsyn) September 10, 2020
My dear you dey suffer oh. Do the maths and you will see you are not succeeding at all. Factor in the cost of transportation, feeding, rent even the cost on your health. Cost of transportation alone will get you a decent apartment at jakande or ajah.
— Obinna Kelvin (@obinnakel) September 10, 2020
Indeed, Nigeria is in a perpetual economic crisis and the pandemic has only worsened this. For Iyin and many other Lagosians, their concerns lie in meeting financial responsibilities and their mental health often takes a back seat.
However, we do not fully grasp how much of a burden the hustle of the city can be to our mental health.
According to a 2017 research, people living in cities such as Lagos are more likely than rural residents to develop conditions such as anxiety, depression, and stress disorders.
Another study shows that the risk of developing very serious psychiatric disorders such as psychosis, which involves hallucinations and paranoia, is more than 50% higher in city dwellers.
With figures like this, can we still afford to pay such little attention to our mental health? How useful is financial security if we are not well enough to enjoy it?
And so, this is a call for Lagosians to pay more than casual attention to their mental health. In the struggle for success, take hold your sanity.