One in every four Nigerian is at risk of developing a mental health problem during their lifetime; meaning that 50 million Nigerians are at risk.
This, according to a consensus of Speakers at a one day Online Training on Mental Health and Suicide Reportage for Media Practitioners in commemoration of the World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) 2020, implies that if an average family has four members, then, every family has at least 1 member at risk.
The one day training held on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, was organised by the World Health Organisation, WHO Collaborating Centre of Excellence in Mental Health Neuroscience and Substance Use Disorders, University of Ibadan, and the Department of Psychiatry, University College Hospital/ College of Medicine, University of Ibadan; in partnership with The Asido Foundation and StableMums Foundation.
They added that reportage of suicide deaths should be sensitive to the emotions of relations, friends, and colleagues who may be in shock and still grieving the loss.
The speakers from the Department of Psychiatry, University College Hospital, Professor Oye Gureje, Dr Jibril Abdulmalik, Dr Bibilola Oladeji and Dr Adetoun Faloye, noted that mental disorders can occur across the lifespan from children through adulthood into old age such as with dementia; adding that they are treatable, can recover and live normal lives.
Speaking on media Practitioners’ reportage on mental health, Dr Mrs Olayinka Egbokhare of the Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan and Mrs Opeyemi Lawal, the Founder of a not-for-profit organisation, noted that the media is a strong and powerful stakeholder that can help to change the negative portrayals of mental ill-health as the consequence of spiritual attack, or the handiwork of evil-doers.
The Speakers revealed that media in its various forms (Print, Television, Radio, Web) remain a powerful tool in creating awareness, providing information and changing societal construct and narrative towards mental health and mental health and mental illness.
The Founder of Asido Foundation, Dr Jubril Abdulmalik, noted that: “We still operate an obsolete Lunacy Act of 1958 that regulates the practice of mental health in Nigeria; adding that a mental health bill is under consideration at the National Assembly.
Dr Abdulmalik, who is also the founder of Asido Foundation, rounded up the session with an appreciation to all participants, encouraging everyone to “start the new decade of the 2020s as a new and positive chapter in our nation’s history with respect to mental health awareness and societal support.”
The Asido Foundation later invited everyone to support the #unashamed2020 campaign which aims to promote open conversations around mental illness in the society inorder to end the shame and stigma associated with mental illness; encouraging everyone to visit www.asidofoundation/unashamed2020 to take the unashamed pledge.