Asido Foundation, in collaboration with Leap Africa and Nigeria Youth Future Funds, through a one-year programme, is training 57 undergraduates drawn from five universities as mental advocates to stem common mental health problems among young people across Nigeria.
The undergraduates at the training funded by Ford Foundation and MacArthur Foundation are from the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife; University of Ibadan, Lead City University, University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Chief executive officer, Asido Foundation, Dr Jibril Abdulmalik, speaking on the overview of mental health at the training in Ibadan, said mental health problems are common, cutting across all age groups but that one in five young people will have a mental health problem in life.
According to him, common mental health problems in young people include anxiety, depression, substance use and suicide, with suicide being the second major cause of death in young people globally.
Abdulmalik, a psychiatrist at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, declared that mental health problems shouldn’t be seen as something strange but rather a problem that can happen to everybody at different phases of life as well as following the occasion of many physical problems like cancer, stroke and kidney failure.
We are trying to ensure that we engage the society because all of us have a role to play, especially because mental health problems are very common among the young people.“At Asido Foundation, we have a directorate for youth mental health and the Asido Campus Network that are student clubs currently in the five universities. This ongoing training is to recruit and train young leaders from different universities as mental health advocates.
“We are empowering and building their resilience as well as their knowledge about mental health. We are teaching them to look after their own emotional wellbeing, teaching them leadership, communication and self-management skills and then to reach out to their peers.”
In his presentation, Dr Haleem Abdulrahman, also a psychiatrist said mental health problems are due to abnormalities in the brain and its functions and individuals can go from having a normal mental health function to presenting with mental disturbance before mental disorders.
“Individuals with mental disturbance have some symptoms that are not specific like poor sleep, poor appetite, being irritable and constantly worrying for no specific reason. It is when those distresses are not identified and measures to alleviate their distress are not provided that such people tend to go on to developing mental disorders.”
So, it is important that they know the features of mental distress and mental disorders so that they can understand them and be able to identify them with their colleagues and refer to them appropriately as it is meant to be,” he said.
Head of Project and national president, Asido Campus Network, Miss Semiloore Atere, said that the mental health student leadership training is basically to train students to be peer mentors, understand more about mental health and disorders, and to change the scope and ideas that people have about mental health.
@ Nigerian Tribune