By G9ija

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A 2-DAY EVENT ORGANISED BY THE NOUS ORGANISATION AND SPARKLE FOUNDATION ON BREAKING THE BARRIERS OF MENTAL HEALTH IN A CHANGING WORLD, HELD ON NOVEMBER 2-3, 2018, AT THE MAINLAND LOCAL COUNCIL DEVELOPMENT AREA, YABA.

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INTRODUCTION

The Nous Foundation Nigeria in collaboration with Sparkle Foundation held a 2-day event on November 2-3, 2018.

The theme of the event was “Breaking the Barriers of Mental Health in a Changing World”.

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It was aimed at fostering institutional and community mechanism or framework and concerted efforts by all and sundry that would promote the awareness about mental health and putting a stamp NO to ending stigmatization and discrimination at the local, national and sub-regional levels – realizing the interconnectedness and importance of mental health at these different spheres of our social life.

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The event, which kicked off with an awareness walk on November 2nd, 2018 at exactly 8:00am in the morning from Jibowu bus stop down to Yaba Local Council Development Area with musical fanfare – a non-stop atmosphere of fun, music and education of the road with the people of the community at the grassroots level while the seminar took place at the same Council on November 3rd, 2018 considered several issues of urgent importance by seasoned speakers on the construct of mental health including, but not limited to: stress, depression and anger; the challenge for young people, mental health; the crisis, causes and care, faith; a solution or myth in recovery and mental health, etc.

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In her remarks, the Convener, The Nous Organisation, Lade Olugbemi, said that due to the increasing cases of mental issues including suicide and drug abuse, there was an urgent need to talk about mental health. Olugbemi further stressed that the organisation is passionate about creating awareness and willing to collaborate with professionals in mental health. “We cannot stop talking about mental health, because it is a condition that can affect anybody.“ It is important that professionals in the field collaborate with organisations to educate people and this should be sustained.

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“Also, the government needs to put in place enabling environment for people to thrive and achieve their potentials in life,’’ she urged. More importantly, she sighted a good example of how her generation resolves personal issues amicably unlike the young people of today who will rather fight on social media platforms than to resolve personal issues off social media. “A lot of our young people are going through pressures. And these pressures are so immense we can’t allow them to go life alone,” she clamoured.

Mrs Olasimbo Ojuroye, the CEO of Sparkle stated that she collaborated with Nous Foundation because she believes that mental health is a conversation that should also be taking place at grassroots. No one should be left out

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Dr. Oluwaniyi representing the acting medical director of Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba., Dr. Otefe Edebi, a Psychiatrist with over a decade’s experience both in the public and private sector in mental health practice, hospital management., Dr. [Mrs] Oyekanmi, a renowned Adolescent Mental Health Psychiatrist Consultant., and the indefatigable Mrs. Grace Alexander, a Disability Specialist, all noted with concerns the worrisome trends of suicide, depression, and lack of proper education on mental health amongst the demographic of young people.

Participants at the events included the members of World Health Committee, leadership and staff members of both Local Government Councils in Yaba and others within Lagos, Teachers, Students, Community leaders, and the general public, etc. In the course of deliberation, participants at the event noted the following:

1. The state of mental health care delivery in Nigeria is worrisome. This is despite efforts by organisations like The Nous Organisation and Sparkle Foundation. The reasons for this situation include infrastructural deficits/decay; stigmatization and discrimination against those with mental illness; low level of employment of human resources for health, and; inadequate funding of mental health awareness.

2. The requisite attention for capacity-building through the training and re-training of health personnel on mental health has not been given by different tiers of government. There is equally the need for the development of a community framework that will be used for basic training of human resource for health to properly integrate new knowledge, inter alia.

That said. Conversely, after the event participants noted the following:

1. What will I do differently? I will never stigmatize because the workshop has equipped me with enhanced knowledge, understanding of how to respond to Mental Health issues.

2. The understanding that our mental health is intimately connected with our behaviour, physical health, educational attainments, human development, social development, economic development, and employability.

3. The wrong use of terms such as mad persons rather than people living with mental illness.

4. The ‘open mic session’ gave them the opportunity to express themselves in a language they understand as there was availability of an interpreter.

5. Finally, the participants asked there must be continuity of such event so that more people can be better informed.

CONCLUSION

The participants expressed their satisfaction at the work being done at the grassroots level by The Nous Organisation Nigeria and Sparkle Foundation. They agreed to establish lasting relations that would be leveraged towards consummating the quest for mental health awareness for all in Nigeria and indeed in Africa and the world as a whole. Also, the participants agreed to change their use of certain terms when discussing mental illness.

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