by Nosa Alekhuogie
Nigerian creators made the country proud as they became the only participating African nation in a 24-hour Global Mental Health Awareness Day event on the social audio app, Clubhouse.
The event, which held virtually on Clubhouse, brought together, mental health experts, creators and interventionists from across the globe to raise awareness on the challenges of mental health and provide communities with mindful sensibility in dealing with mental health issues.
The theme to mark the Mental Health Awareness Day: “Mental Health in an Unequal World” also doubled as the theme of the event.
With Clubhouse using it’s voice chatroom platform, the event ran for 24-hours, reaching the milestone as the first of its kind to attain this feat and making it possible for participants to join in at various hours while the event lasted.
The event hosted fifteen countries with Nigerian creators being the only contributors from the African continent.
While creators unanimously agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened mental health problems for the youth because mental health was not integrated as part of the pandemic response, speakers from various continents spotted challenges peculiar to their region and interventions, which they said could be taken to support communities going forward.
Speaking at the event, Founder of Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI), Victor Ugo, stated that young Nigerians were continuously being exposed to risk factors that predispose them to mental health problems and that there is an inherent and somewhat inherited despondency in them due to a lack of investment in mental health services.
Ugo explained that the programme was targeted at preventing mental health problems like depression, anxiety and substance use and abuse disorders.
Founder and Executive Director at Love, Peace and Mental Health Foundation (LPM), Sheifunmi Yusuf, said high expectations were placed on young Nigerians and a large number of young people living with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.
“This makes them afraid to seek help because of shame or how society will perceive them. Young people and Nigeria as a whole need to be educated about mental health because many people suffer in silence for not having a better understanding of their emotions, feelings and what they may be experiencing in their mind and body,” she said.
Neuropsychiatrist and Mental Health Advocate, Dr. Maymunah Kadiri, stressed the importance of combating depression. He emphasised that research has shown that one in five children and adolescent Nigerians have mental health disorders, noting that schools and homes are filled with kids that are dealing with some form of mental illness.
Commenting on mental challenges associated with disability, Founder of Amputees United initiative and the Gratitude Hub, Adenike Oyetunde, explained that studies have found out that adults with disabilities, report cases mental distress than those without disabilities.