Discrimination, stigma, setbacks to mental health awareness – Don

A professor of psychiatrist and consultant to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Akhigbe Kingsley, has called for collaborative efforts to raise awareness on mental health.

Prof. Kingsley said discrimination and stigma had prevented individuals in need from accessing mental health or visiting counsellors for their wellbeing.

He noted that, “Stigma seems to stick and drive people off from engaging with such individuals. We all have to be involved and fight it.”

He stated this during an advocacy summit to raise awareness on mental health for post-graduate students of the University of Benin (UniBen),  Benin City, Edo state.

The summit was organised by Health Circle Concept Initiative (HCCI) and the Niger Delta Youth Council (NDYC) in partnership with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

He said, “The bulk of mental health issues people know that they are experiencing is distress. But they are still able to go to work, school, and relate with people. However, they carry their burden all by themselves. In all these, mental health counsellors are there to offer help. How many people are truly well? Individuals have problems with sleep, weariness, hearing and forgetfulness. All these are mental health issues.

“It does not matter who goes to see a counselor. Each person visited with an ailment.”

The Edo state representative in NDDC, Patrick Aisoweren, and the national coordinator of NDYC, Engr. Jator Abido, respectively commended the managing director of NDDC, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, for approving the summit.

Aisoweren said the NDDC as an interventionist agency is always keen to support initiatives that would promote youth’s welfare in the region.