“World Mental Health Day is marked every year on October 10 to raise awareness about mental health around the world and to mobilize efforts to support those experiencing mental health issues. Every year since 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) has organized a global campaign for World Mental Health Day. The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) announced the theme for World Mental Health Day 2022, which is ‘Make mental health for all a global priority”.
The write up above summarizes this year’s theme and the importance the United Nations places on mental health and well-being. The fact is that everyone has at one point or the other come down with mental health conditions. To some people, such conditions did not degenerate to serious health challenges because self-care and management while to some people it was only a trigger that turned their lives upside down. It is important to note on this day there are many triggers to serious mental health challenges which include, inequality, poverty, social/cultural/political challenges, migration, natural displacements of people through climate change and forceful displacements of people through terrorists attacks, negative thought life/thinking and so many more.
Of course a lot will be written about mental health and what it means to different peoples and cultures today. To us in the Association of Christian Counsellors of Nigeria, our attention is focused on what truly makes a nation mentally healthy and our conclusion is that a nation is mentally healthy to the extent it makes provision to curtail anything that impinges on the mental health and well-being of its citizens. The Nigerian case presents a study that could earn a PhD. Public tertiary institutions have been shut for close to a year, so, what is the mental state of a parent whose child should be in such schools but at home yet, the children of the rich and politically connected attend and graduate from private universities at home and overseas? What is the mental state of a poor woman whose child is dying in her care for lack of affordable healthcare yet the child of the rich and politically connected is flown overseas for medical care? Unfortunately there is not yet a legal framework for mental health practice in the Nigeria other than the colonial ‘Lunatic Act’ of 1958. To us in Nigeria, we mark this day because the UN special day gives us an invaluable opportunity to create awareness about mental health and how to achieve it at the personal level.
On the 6th of October, an international conference was convened by SDF International Initiative to commemorate the UN mental health day 2022 at the Exhibition Hall in Abuja to which we participated actively. Speakers from tertiary institutions, government agencies and heads of NGOs and from the private sectors of the economy spoke unequivocally that attention should be focussed on the issues around mental health. At the governmental level, speakers were united in calling for a legal framework (an Act of the parliament) to open up the space for practitioners to provide opportunities for adequate careand practice and at the personal level, the need for personal care, care for each other, eating healthy, exercising, positive/healthymeditation and prayers,sharing feelings and taking advantage of counselling opportunities and professional helps when issues of sleeplessness, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts creep in and persist without controls. Cases of severe irritability/anger, sleep disturbances and solastalgia(a form of home sickness when one is at home because things have changed and the person is at a loss and longs for the ‘old good days’ so to say) will require the help of professional therapists.There is need to ‘Make mental health for all a global priority’ and we,at the Association of Christian Counsellors of Nigeria, wholeheartedly join the WHO and the UN body today to echo ‘Make It Happen Now’.
By Ronald O. King.
World Mental Health Day 2022 in Photos: