Overtime we’ve been having issues with depression and other mental health related ailments which are rampant in the society making it important for young people have better understanding this issue. As part of the drive to heighten mental awareness in the country, Fitila’s Balikis Akinjobi shares her perspective with corps members. Excerpts.
What is Mental Health?
A lot of people don’t know what Mental Health is but what we just hear about is oh this person committed suicide, that person killed himself, killed herself. It is important for us to know what mental health is about.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is related to our mental and psychological well being. So enough of focusing on just the physical wellbeing. We need to give importance to the mental and psychological well being of people. So basically, Mental Health is about our mental and psychological well being.
What do you think about the various myths on mental health?
Yea there are a lot of myths about Mental Health, about depression and other mental disorders. So, you will hear people say depression is demonic, depression is caused by spiritual things. People have different opinions when it comes to different Mental Health disorders. So I conversed with someone last week and the person, very intelligent person, a literate also believes that mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorder are caused by some spiritual underlying things. I believe that a lot of people carry different kinds of opinions about Mental Health and mental disorders. So, I think the first thing we need to do is create awareness about Mental Health, demystifying different opinions that people have about Mental Health and these will have a lot to do with every party, individuals, the government and private organizations. Also, we need to talk about Mental Health more in our workplaces, in schools, in different organizations. With this, maybe we will be able to create enough awareness about Mental Health and demystify a lot of opinions on Mental Health disorders.
With the current rate of unemployment in Nigeria, how do you think the mental wellness of the youths is affected?
Presently, the unemployment rate is about 23% and given the fact that most people according to the World Health Organization, people between the ages of 15 – 29 are mostly vulnerable to Mental Health disorders and we know that people within this age bracket are typically, mostly people that just graduated, serving corps members etc. So, looking at it, being unemployed causes this kind of depress mode and that is how depression starts. A persistent fall into depression is what causes the long term depression. So, looking at it, unemployment is going to go a long way to affect the state of Mental Health of the youth because if you graduate from school and after spending like 4-5 years in the university and then you graduate, upon graduation there are no jobs and all of that and then there is social pressure, your parents already want you to be independent and all of that. So, it’s very likely that people within this age bracket will fall into depression. So, we need to call on the government to provide more jobs, this will in a long extent reduce the vulnerability of youths to Mental Health disorders. So you will see people using substances and when there are no jobs, people are idle and they just want to feel among and some of them just go into using different kinds of substances. So, unemployment has a very positive relationship with Mental Health.
Let’s assume and we believe that the government is going to create employment and provide more jobs for us. What can we do individually?
Ok. Entrepreneurship will go a long way and I believe the Nigerian youths are not lazy. So, we see many people upon graduating from the university they go into different kinds of businesses. So, they try to solve the problem themselves. With this, I think in a way, we are already finding a solution to it ourselves. People are doing different things and trying to stay self-employed. I think this is a very good initiative. People should keep doing what they can do best and you know, try to stay healthy. If you’re feeling bad, try to talk to someone you can trust. Don’t hold things to yourself alone. Speaking to someone could go a long way.
What does Fitila do in brief?
In brief, Fitila is a social enterprise that focuses on raising the awareness on Mental Health and also bridging the present gap between the numbers of psychiatrist that we have in Nigeria and the total number of people that are in need of mental health services.
Balikis Akinjobi, is a Trustee of Mental Care Foundation, owner and operator of Fitila mental health and wellness platform.
You can reach us on social media @fitiladotlife.