Breaking the Myths and Ending the Silent Culture around Sex or Reproductive and Mental Health
According to Winston Churchill, “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” Words like sex, are not appreciated in public spaces, mental health challenge is weird, and hard for people to understand when a victim voices out.
In Africa, the culture of silence has long been practiced and passed down to younger generations, which has affected people negatively.
Here we will be addressing core health challenges plaguing Africans and the need for us to normalize talking about them and seek help when needed.
Words like vagina, penis, breast, and sex are sacred words rarely mentioned or talked about in the family or among people. An average teenager grows up and becomes lost on how to start the journey of puberty or how to practice safe sex. Most parents find it hard to give proper sex education to their children.
They install fear of premarital sex in your mind and the shame that comes with falling pregnant before marriage. Hormones will do their jobs one way or another; with a high rate of x-rated content all around them, it is necessary to talk to them about safe sex practices, such as teaching them about prevention and protection.
Most teenagers learn about sex from mates that have started having it; even when the advice is wrong, they have no choice but to believe because that is their only source of information. “Due to lack of experience and sex education, many young people are becoming increasingly exposed to the risk of HIV infection” (Okechukwu Odinaka). Remember, in a sane society, healthy people are the greatest asset.
Reproductive health is everybody’s right; male and female. Reproductive health includes; abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, uterine fibroids, etc. In a community where people are judged or criticized because they decided to abort an unplanned pregnancy, have chronic STDs or infections, victims run to unsafe remedies to treat their conditions. According to the African Journal of medical and health sciences, “there is continuing high rates of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality, high rate of unsafe abortions, high rate of vesicovaginal fistula and female genital tract malignancies among other reproductive health challenges.” Also, when patients consult their doctors, a lot of them tell lies when asked questions to avoid been judged. Often they don’t get the help they need because of the wrong information given, but when their conditions get worst, they seek help in all the wrong places, which endangers their health and lives.
According to Joyce Meyer, I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you. Mental health challenges can include financial crises, stress, postnatal depression, anxiety, etc. We live in a culture where silence is strength. No matter what is going on with you, you are expected to man- up and find a way out. A term I will like to call “burn till you heal or burn till you die.”
A new mother experiencing postnatal depression is seen as crazy and rebuked when she expresses herself. “According to the International Neuropsychiatric Disease Journal, the prevalence of postpartum depression is high, and an increased media campaign about postpartum depression and preventive measures is urgently needed.”
We must empathize with those around us that need help. It is okay to ask for help; what is not okay is criticizing or keeping quiet. Find a place or someone to talk to if depressed or stressed. Ensure you see a medical practitioner when you are ill.
By- Damilola Elewa