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Religious activities can help stabilise people with mental conditions, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Prof. Olatunji Aina, has said. Aina said this on Friday(2nd of Dec) in Lagos while addressing participants at the Annual Conference of the Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba.

The theme of the conference was, ‘Religion and Mental Illness’.

Aina, who lectures at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said: “The mentally ill most times use religion to cope with their distress. “Also, religious activities including prayers, fasting, church and mosque attendance, spirituality, are known to attenuate psychiatric symptoms, discourage suicide and even heal physical illnesses.“

The consultant said, however, that many fake religious leaders in the past and in recent times used religion in ways that were injurious to people’s mental health and lives generally.

According to him, such religious leaders tend to pursue material things at the expense of the welfare of members. “These fake leaders make frightening prophecies and cause disharmony in the family and so many families have been scattered as a result.

“Also, some illiterate religious leaders teach false doctrines. “For example, (some of them can tell you that) mental illness is as a result of sin. “Most of these religious leaders are charlatans and criminals, that is, wolves in sheep clothing.“These are some of the disadvantages of religion to mental health in Nigeria,“ Aina said.

Also speaking, another Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Bolanle Ola, urged psychiatrists to be sensitive to the needs and concerns of patients. He also underscored the need for psychiatrists to taking cognisance of patients’ religious beliefs in addressing their plights. Ola, a lecturer at the Lagos State University College of Medicine, Ikeja, said psychiatrists were trained to use techniques that would help patients achieve optimal performance.

Source: Punch Newspaper

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