How unemployment among the national youth is increasingly causing a debilitating form of socio-economic ‘meningitis’

Having read the powerful story I would rather have titled  ‘Living Nightmare of Waking up from the Coma’ of a South African man, Martin Pistorius, who now functions with very little disability and has also published a book, Ghost Boy: My Escape From a Life Locked Inside My Own Body  based on his ordeal of having slipped into a coma aged 12 and was unable to move or communicate or make eye contact or do anything for himself for 12 years as he was diagnosed with a debilitating form of meningitis in the late 1980s, I could mirror  his experience at par with reality and impact of unemployment among the youth, in the nation and Africa.

However, is it a thing of fate or something really worth pondering that this line of thought coincides or collide with a new study by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, Duke University and the University of California, that has found a new research that young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) are vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems?

Inferably, just as it was so though for Joan Pistorius, Martin’s  mum, who looked at her son one day and said: “I hope you die, ” It is equally tremendously  tough for our youth that a lot of them, even sometimes their parent, wish they ‘de-exist’ from the earth- not necessarily by death or killing themselves. Youth are being reduced to their shadows as everyone is so used to them not being there that they don’t  notice when they began to be present again.

Practically let us ask ourselves:  what do you expect the mental health or state of a hot-heeled youth who is educated, trained and employable but has been reduced by reality of unemployment in the nation to a socio-economic vegetative state?

I mean, how do you feel when you hear of  someone who bags an international master’s degree  from eyebrow institutions yet been offered 25 – 30k Naira monthly  for  an employment he is  going to used black and blue and eventually might get dumbed? Or someone with a PhD degree yet unemployed. The other day, a youth cried out over the social media of master’s graduate of oil and gas, with a distinction from a top UK University who got offered N50k job.

Isn’t this socio-economic situation synonymous to one who’s suffering from  a health or mental  condition that makes him unable to do anything for himself – from bathing and feeding, peeing and pooping, turning him in bed and so on?  I mean, when what they earn can’t pay their rent, feed them, clothe them, fuel their generator or allow them to socialise or get married except by external support.

Recently, the news of a University of Ilorin best graduating student in search of a good job six years after graduation went viral  following her cry out for help, after all her effort in searching for a good and well-paying job amounted to nothing but a mental, physical and socio-economic stress and abjection.

Of course, this is  not a new thing, bearing in mind the unpleasant unemployment statistics that reported about 6 PhD degree holders, 700 master’s degree holders and more than 8000 bachelor’s degree holders from every state in Nigeria who applied for the 100 driver positions under the scheme known as “Graduate Executive Truck Driving Trainee Program” owned by Nigeria’s business mogul and industrialist Alhaji Aliko Dangote through his conglomerate, The Dangote Group, Sometime in the middle of 2012.

While the surge in the number of applications received could be regarded as a ‘world record’ by the nation, it is quite unedifying for broadcast or the media.  Pathetically, the Group announced that it received a staggering figure of 13,000 applications under the “Graduate Trainee Program” for employment as truck drivers and most of the applicants were from reputable universities that had the needed quality.

In a personal testimony of one of the Ph.D Holder applicants, he was pushed socio-economically pushed to the wall undergo the training to become one truck drivers, after no job was not forthcoming having attended a couple of interviews at different places, but sadly didn’t get what he was looking for.

Likewise, recently in faraway Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India, it does seem that education mean nothing following jaw-dropping number of PhD holders, post-graduates and  Graduates who were  among the 2,300,000  (23 lakh) applicants vying for the post of peon in Uttar Pradesh government secretariat. Accordingly, the UP government advertised for 368 vacancies of peon in the secretariat with a minimum qualification class five pass out and know how to ride a bicycle but approximately  recorded number of PhD’s application  as 255, postgraduates as 25,000 , graduates as 1,50,000, Intermediate pass outs as 7,50,000 and  high school or equivalent pass outs as  11,00,000. As such, as the statistics stands: 5 class pass out can be categorised viz a viz PhD doctor. What a jeopardy?

According to new statistics released in May of this year, in an Unemployment Methodology Review forum in Abuja by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS,) 22.6 million Nigerians were unemployed in the four quarter of the year 2014 as the figure increased by 21 per cent from 7,078,450 million (10.0%) recorded in the previous year. The statistics also showed that 17.9 per cent of the figure was under employed in the country in the year under review. However, the reality of unemployed or under-employed in the nation is more overwhelming than it is mildly packaged in the statistical figures.

As such the current generation of young people faces the worst job prospects in decades. The ‘horribility ‘of unemployment among young people especially those who are educated, trained and employable is inestimable, though it is gathered from the research that are committed to working, judging from their attitudes toward work and actual job-seeking strategies.

Quotably, research into the impact how unemployment affects the mental health of young people especially those who are educated, trained and employable is scarce, the impact remains large and statistically significant:  it is gathered in advanced studies that unemployment indeed causes these category of young people to face psychological challenge as they show acute vulnerability for mental health issues, including higher rates of mental health and substance abuse problems.

Accordingly, mental health problems and substance use disorders may occur in tandem in young people because of the negative stress they get by wanting to work but being unable to. That is, the struggle to find employment appears to take its toll on the mental health of youth, which causes them to contend with substantial mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and aggression control.”

Ordinarily, mental stress or ill-health develops when young person is in the decision room of life and destiny to either choose between a job that offers a measly salary or rather ‘sit’ at home , especially when considering qualifications in terms of education and or training . By ‘sitting’ at home, they become street ‘hustlers’  even though  not the youth  want to hustle, but the lack of a system that works has made so.  For example, graduate of engineer suddenly hit to street to become musician – they are vulnerable to fear which cumulatively indulges them in substance abuse in a bit to keep their head up and stay above stress, depression, anxiety, aggression, sleeplessness, idleness, faithlessness, and others.

Some face the mental stress of either staying back in the country to do a job that defiles their educational qualification-underemployment – or apply for visa to go abroad and face all kinds of humiliation by washing toilets or driving taxi while I have a similar option in our home country.

Others, often consider better by majority have resulted to going back to school for, certifications examinations and courses, masters or PHD because of no jobs as  they  continue to depend on folks or people to sponsor them, as if they were toddlers. While they go ahead furthering their education, they hope their desired job meets them half way or they hope to have given themselves an edge in labour industry but the predominance of unemployment in the nation even makes the mental state worse, when having done all, yet can’t find a job.

Adding fuel to fire, parent would rather pay millions for education that would promised them a job at the expense of talent rather than help them start-up their enterprise through their talent -only to end-up drowning in the ocean of joblessness. As such, the purpose of education in developing nations of the world is forfeited and foreclosed when unemployment among young people is the order of the economy.  In the same vein, unemployment has forestalled a vital purpose of education in emerging countries which is to help in bringing to check the major and minor ill-social vices among young people by absorbing them away from the negativity that often heralds the ‘street’ mentality or way of doings things.

In corollary, mental ill-health may develop when graduates are socio-economically conditioned with a single ‘reality-choice’ of buying into the ‘hustlers’ mentality and way of doing things- that is, as if a gambler- bearing in mind that gamblers  principles of the game of life hardly or slowly prosper in the legitimate world . A lot of them have to go back, after a decade or more, to their talents they have initially put aside- often forcedly- for education and the future of employment it promised only to find out that they are trapped in what seem like a ‘dead-end.

The reality of unemployment have made youth suffer from Down syndrome and low moral that have successfully  left  them stranded  in ‘self-exclusion’ as they shed tears and want to  run mad when they think about the situation of this country. The stark reality hit them that they are going to spend a large part or the rest of my life totally alone or unemployed- even among their peers- having been denied gainfully employment year in, year out. It’s quite victimizing, dehumanizing and demoralising to people especially young ones that are educated and have acquired vocational skills to make themselves self-reliant and contribute meaningfully to their self-growth and society-growth are roaming the streets with their résumé and begging for money from their folks. The toxicity of these conditions have pushed many of them to a mental state where they do not to know where to start from have become wanderers.

The nation’s situation is so shameful bearing in mind that our master’s degree students in the UK need allowance from home while the UK citizens are working to pay their fees and bills through school, even before they become 18. Yet, having paid millions to get trained and educated in top rank international higher institutions, yet can’t survive on the money earned & pay your own bills without help from your folks. Statistically, with the situation of the nation, many can’t survive socio-economically with their meagre salaries as they still get fed by their parents.

However, it is more psychologically and emotionally traumatizing for our youth as the situation of nation is one where political connection or nepotism   and tribalism are used as yardsticks for recruitment and have militated against her getting gainful employment. A lot of employment appointment have been put on hold for the stretch of the year because of change in government. Likewise, socioeconomic activities have been stagnated or reproached by consequence of a change in government which is cumulatively hampering the global and national call for an inclusive prosperity and sustainable economic growth and development.

Consequent upon the harsh reality of unemployment in the nation, our young people have been starkly hit by a debilitating form of socio-economic meningitis that successfully founded them in a very dark place, therefore making them vanquish and vanish themselves. Like Martin, what most unemployed or underemployed young persons could do is “think” that their thoughts became increasingly darker as time went on and so they decided to block it out and stop thinking.

However, in our ordeal of escaping from a Life that has locked us inside mentally, especially by the socio economic totaled system of our nation, we can emerge champions and make our ‘True Lives Stories’ serve as examples to others if we brace up like Martin Pistorius did in a creative way by releasing a book that covers our living nightmare of having slipped socio-economic coma (unemployment) to victorious time getting out from the coma (gainful employment).

Every minute a qualified graduate who is ready to work spends outside of a gainful employment is a minute spent in socio-economic coma as not having a good job, generally makes it difficult for one to achieve their life goals or plan even his social responsibility and It even shatters young people dream to become who they desire to be.

On another note, this avenue is being seized to reach the president and every able body, both government and non-government to accelerate employment appointment of youth or job-seekers in various parastatals, ministries and other private and public organizations, we as compatriots youth must thrive by constantly remaining ourselves that we exist no matter how much we try to ‘de-exist’.


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