By KAREEM UMAR
The Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) has invited Nigerians to join in the world’s first virtual March for Mental Health on 9 October at 1pm WAT.
MANI in a press statement signed by its founder, Victor Ugo also urged Nigerians to Move for Mental Health as world’s first 24-hour virtual March for Mental Health commenced around the world.
‘‘The extraordinary increase in mental health needs – with the added challenges of COVID-19 – is taking its toll on already overburdened mental health services which are underfunded and under-resourced. That is why we are inviting members of the public to join us in the world’s first virtual March for Mental Health on 9 October. At 1pm WAT, we will live stream an hour of content featuring Nigerian Singer and Songwriter, Hadiza Blell (Di’ja), lived experience advocate and a volunteer with MANI, Timiebi Dawn Ebitibituwa and our Founder Victor Ugo as part of the Speak Your Mind24hr activation. People will stand up and be counted by using an AR filter that places them in the middle of the virtual march as it leaves Nigeria and progresses around the world,’’ the statement read in part.
MANI also said in the statement that the magnitude of mental health burden the world is confronted with is not being matched by the response it demands. The group disclosed that close to one billion people globally have a mental disorder and anyone, anywhere, can be affected.
‘‘People with severe mental disorders tend to die 10 -20 years earlier than the general population. Suicide is claiming the lives of close to 800,000 people every year – 1 person every 40 seconds – and it’s the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years.
“According to research from the world health organisation, about 1 in every 4 persons will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and this does not exempt Nigerians. Diving deeper into that statistic, we can assume that at the minimum and in a population of ~200 million people we have almost a quarter of the population struggling with one or more mental health problems. Yet, Nigeria is said to have less than 250 psychiatrists, which comes down to almost 1 psychiatrist to 800,000 people: an impossible figure. In this same country, suicide attempts are still criminal offences and there are no nationally coordinated suicide emergency lines or even alternative solutions,” says Victor Ugo, who is supporting the March in Nigeria.
“Support to me is accessibility, access to mental health services, having family and friends that are accessible to you, that you can talk to, and you can share how you are feeling or what it is you are going through but majorly, having access tomental health services. That is what support means to me,” says Timiebi, a lived experience advocate volunteering with MANI.
The statement reads further, ‘‘People can take part in the virtual March for Mental Health in a number of ways. Sign up for the 24-hour virtual March for Mental Health and see the full schedule and timings. RSVP for the 24-hour Facebook live event which will kick off on the 9th October featuring content, lived experience and influencer involvement from 18 countries starting in Tonga and running through New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Argentina, Ghana, Peru and the US during the 24 hour period. Join in and share on social media including using the AR filter and surround yourself with others marching with you and hear the noise of your collective action. Use the AR filter on Instagram or Facebook, and Facebook Frames
Try out the Instagram Stickers (search for “Speak Your Mind” on Instagram’s GIF menu). Alongside the virtual March, a global “Move for Mental Health” challenge is being set with a new mental health anthem written and performed by a group of artists and activists from around the world – Artists for Speak Your Mind – that will be available to stream and download from 5th October.
‘‘Also between 5-10th October people are being asked to mobilise on TikTok and search for the anthem “Move Together” and film themselves doing any kind of movement – dancing, taking a walk, riding a bike, painting a picture – and posting the video using #MoveForMentalHealth. For those not on TikTok they are being asked to share their films on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #MoveForMentalHealth.
“We all need to be part of the change we want in mental health”, said Nigerian singer Hadiza Blell (aka Di’ja) who is taking part in the March. “Our voices are coming together to reach the ears of our governments loud and clear as we demand more movement on mental health.”