‘People living mental illness need our support’ – Nightingale Foundation

Seye Joseph 

According to the World Health Organisation, one out of four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives with 450 million people currently suffering from such conditions which place mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

In its strong capacity to intensify the campaign against stigmatization of people living with mental illness, Nightingale Foundation – an organisation that is committed to reducing the suffering caused by mental illness and drug addiction by using all resources within reach to promote more awareness and to help everyone live mentally healthier lives embarked on Solidarity Walk with Nigerians to commemorate 2016 World Mental Health Day that was tagged “Dignity in mental health; Psychological first aid for all.

Speaking during the walk, the Executive Director of Nightingale Foundation, Olubukola Hassan said that the intention of the walk was to educate the public and raise their awareness on mental illness in the society.

“What we are doing is to give support to people that live with mental illness. It is unfortunate that our society discriminates against people living with mental illness, they segregate them and see them as people going through special illness that they should not have anything with.”

According to Hassan, “our organisation is committed to reducing the suffering caused by mental illness and drug addiction by using all resources within our reach to promote more awareness and to reduce the suffering caused by mental illness through drug addiction to help everyone live mentally healthier lives”, she said.

She urged members of the public not to see people that have mental illness as incomplete people, thereby discriminating against them in the society.

The National information Officer of United Nation Information Centre, Lagos, Seyi Soremekun  read the speech of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

The speech highlighted the importance of making mental health care available to all people who need it, whatever their circumstances and wherever they live.

He said that this year celebration called for urgent need to provide immediate support to people who experience psychological distress after surviving a crisis.

According to Ki-moon, people who suffer this receive little or no immediate counselling.  “In situations of humanitarian crisis, it is because there are rarely any trained mental health professionals available.  However, it is perfectly possible to train first responders, such as police and fire officers, emergency health staff and humanitarian aid workers to provide “psychological first aid” to people in need.”

He cited examples of Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the approach being offered widely in Syria and for thousands of displaced people in Greece, Nigeria and South Sudan.

He urged governments to develop robust systems of care for the short- and long-term.

“Civil society organizations can support these efforts through raising awareness, community-based programmes and research.  And each one of us can examine how we can offer support to our friends, families and neighbours.”

He called for total compassion and empathy for those who have survived such crisis and ensure they access help they need, for as long as they require it.

The road walk was done in partnership with United Nations Information Centre.


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