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Experts champion mental health advocacy with #31for31 campaign

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To commemorate mental health awareness month of May, and give a voice to this critical aspect of life, Consultant Psychiatrist and Managing Director Tranquil and Quest Behavioral health, Dr. Gbonjubola Abiri held a month-long session addressing mental health issues.

Under the #mentalhealthwithdrgbonjubolaabiri, the drive which featured as video clips on social media had over 40 distinguished individuals from different disciplines speak about Mental Health either through their personal experiences of loss, forgiveness, depression, stigma, sexual and gender based violence. Additionally, their disciplines of music, Fashion, Art, Advocacy, money, travel, marriage and others were also explored.

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Speakers included influencers and advocates; Busola Dakolo, Segun Awosanya (Segalink), Lanre ‘Eldee’ Daniel, Mocheddah Olateru-Olagbegi, Chude Jideonwo, Gbemi Olateru Olagbegi, Folake Falana, Tonia Ojenagbon and Funmi Eko. Musicians; Timi Dakolo and Ayo Vincent, Actors; Kiki Omeili, Chinonso Arubayi and Christian Prince Ochiagah. Medical experts; Dr Ruth Arumala, Dr. Ayobami Aranmolate ( Dr Laser), Dr. Damian Avar (Sabi Doc), Dr Tochukwu Macfoy, Dr Linda Osuntade, Dr Femi Oladeji, Prof Sue Verma, Dr Ibukun Adedayo and Dr Adeola Olajide.

According to the host, Dr. Abiri mental health has taken the back seat and not much attention has been given to the topic by individuals, the community and even the government. In spite of the poor attention, mental health is a significant part of our lives and is a determinant of the quality of life of individuals.

The World Health Organisation estimates that one in four persons at some point in their lives will develop a Mental health or neurological disorder. In addition, about 450 million persons worldwide have a mental health disorder, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

Unfortunately however, two-thirds of persons with the disorders who need help do not seek it from a professional due to ignorance, stigma, discrimination or lack of access to care.

“Hence, I decided to commemorate the Mental Health Awareness Month of May with a #31for31 #mentalhealthwithdrgbonjubolaabiri campaign. The goal was to ensure that the conversations around mental health are normalised and stigma is reduced to the barest minimum.

“The idea is to change the narrative from how Mental Health is often perceived as a taboo to be discussed, to having distinguished individuals speaking continuously on a daily basis for the 31 days of the Mental Awareness Month of May, about Mental Health issues hence, the drive was called the #31for31.”

The Psychiatrist stressed that the drive has been well received and commended as laudable. “People reach out to me daily excitedly asking who is coming up next. They want to hear the next topic of discourse and what the next individual wants to say and teach them. Many others are able to relate to these conversations and are reaching out to talk about their Mental Health.

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‘With the #31for31, I have achieved my goal of getting people talking and increasing the awareness about Mental Health issues, changing the health seeking behaviour as quite a number of people have reached out to me via these means to seek help from professionals.

“I have also tackled stigma and discrimination head on as even people with mental illnesses shared their stories in a bid to give courage to others. It is my hope that as the days go by, we can consolidate on the gains made and that the momentum will be sustained and increased”, she added.

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