With the birth of every new day, the need for counseling has become expedient. With the news of the after effect of societal pressures and family dysfunction swallowing up the evening news and national dailies, it is no longer enough to assume we are all okay. People need help. Professional help.
Sadly, we are not taught or encouraged to talk about dicey matters, to seek professional help when we need it. To even know when we need it. We feel weakness when we do. Afflictive phrases like “You be man nah” or “you are a superwoman” just goes so far to compound it. So, we prefer to silently wage the battle of shame, guilt and secrets throughout our lifetime.
In our primary and secondary schools (private and government owned) for example, I find it to be an awful joke that there is no established system of guidance and counselling; but, you often find it in our tertiary institutions. It begs the question, how does one even know when one needs it? Little wonder why it is greatly unused. “How you wan take bend dry fish?”. It’s almost too late or useless or both.
What have we put in place to guide the young souls in our primary and secondary schools? Trial and error. Or maybe a couple of angry, underpaid and uninterested teachers who have taken to crushing the self esteem of young minds as a favourite pastime.
A teenager commits suicide and leaves a note that they are doing it because of their lover, molestation, a certain voice or an acute dissatisfaction with life. Our quickest reaction is always to blame this and that generation, television, western culture. We wobble this stale meat of callousness in our mouth until another one dies, and then like menstrual cycle, we go again.
In our society, mistakes are first appraised-often terribly, before a person is helped (if at all). Parents, teachers, society, you, I, should be taught to know that the sanity of a child-any child for that matter, is more important than any school grades, some set standard or even hard earned status. That people define whatever they do and not the reverse.
It is shameful how we have managed to create homes where fear inhibit children from discussing tender issues with parents. Institutions where students never get advice from so called Course Advisers, society where a man dare not cry or by a slice of carelessness show that he does not have it all together, else he would be labeled a sissy. Worship centers where women are lied to that silence equals piety.
Only recently, I tried talking to my course adviser about a resolvable academic problem that ensued in my result and was not my fault. What followed after his several feet dragging and repeated obnoxious questions was “get out of my face. I said, get out of here!”. May I quickly add that I am not one to be frolicking with lecturers, but my attempt was fueled by his earlier fake attempt at a rapport that was related by the overused line, “you guys can come to my office at anytime”. From all indications, my case was the mildest form of his ineptness.
The same is the case in most of our homes. Daddy is the Lion – Scar and mummy is a Hyena in her own right. So, kunle and Uzodinma helplessly go out to tell their woes to a more receptive neighbour, aunty, friend or anybody who often may profer deadly shortcuts. But you see, that doesn’t matter because they are neither too busy like mummy nor carnivorous like daddy.
A man that goes to bed with an itchy anus must not mind waking up with smelly fingers. The recent geometric rise in the rate of depression, suicide and attempted suicide is an overtime effect of pure neglect. The perpetrators and victims sit in our classrooms, Sunday school, kitchens, salons but we are too careful to discuss their many troubles. Instead, we neatly thread the edges of the matter; anytime they want to talk about it we tell them to shut up and that they are watching too much American films. Now, we have trouble.
Another problem that faces counselling here – I think – is confidentiality. I bet you have heard that a problem shared is half-solved. Well,that’s only true when you share with the right persons; the ones who do not have xender sewn into their mouths to share it with the whole village. Or worse still, come back to haunt you with it. There is this sharp prick i feel in my occular nerves anytime I hear people spill in the open what was told to them in confidence. If someone is crazy enough to share such intimacy with you, you should also be crazy enough to keep it secret. Keep it safe. Otherwise, you make counseling all the more difficult.
It bothers me also how few our practicing professional counselors are. How scarce they are. No one in his ‘right frame of mind’ will want to get a degree in counseling or like discipline. Where dem wan see work? There is simply no place for them in our society-yet!
Let the family units, counselors, the government and everyone, learn and teach others that the world need a lot of help. Remind them that it is okay to ask for and render it. While we work towards gradually incorporating professional counseling into our society, we will count on parents, teachers, oga, mentors and the likes. Let’s start .
As we build Nursery, Primary and secondary schools, build also guidance and counseling centres. Teach them to use it. Only this will make the ones in our higher institutions find use. As you build your companies and industries, also add it. In our worship centers, let’s also add it. When the time comes to employ counselors, employ professionals, those with hearts large enough to add. Let’s not dine with nepotism.
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