In recent times, with the help of CSOs, the conversations on mental health in Nigeria has gained more public awareness. Although some people still hold the notion that mental health problems are spiritual, more safe spaces and seminars are held to demystify the norm and provide support for people with mental health illnesses.
According to the World Health Organisation, one in every four Nigerians suffers from a mental illness. These statistics are alarming and should warrant a national response. One of the most prominent mental health cases was shown on the nationwide broadcast show Big Brother Nigeria in 2021, where one of the housemates, Ololade Gbolahan Olajide, popularly known as KayVee, voluntarily exited the show on the grounds of mental health breakdown. KayVee, who is also a photographer, was brave enough to show his vulnerability to the whole nation. This, despite having a few backlashes, sparked a mental health conversation on various social media platforms, which in turn led to a lot of discussion on the need for support systems for people suffering from mental health illnesses. These conversations gained a lot of support from individuals, colleagues and organisations.
Having gone through this experience, KayVee now uses his platform to advocate for mental health in Nigeria. The fireside chat with Kayvee was a novel platform to foster a safe space for mental health conversations. The program Organised by the British Council in partnership with Stand to End Rape Initiative and Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative was held at Ikoyi on Saturday, March 5, 2022.
L: R- Kayvee, Dr Gbonju, MI & Wale
The Fireside Chat was a balance of storytelling of related issues regarding mental health and knowledge sharing from a mental health professional. Seated on the panel were; Arinola Olowoporoku (Arin), Olajide (KayVee), Jude Abaga (MI) Ololade and Dr Gbonjubola Abiri and facilitated by Omowale Ozolua.
Some of the topics discussed centred on:
The relatability of mental health
The need for therapy
The participants and panel of the fireside chat
At the end of the chat, participants departed having learnt more about mental health and were also taught the essence of rephrasing questions like “what is wrong with me?” to “What happened to me?”. The importance of having a safe space and community for support was also stressed. At STER, we believe that chats like this humanise mental health illnesses and would open the floor for more innovative and constructive conversations. STER would like to thank all the facilitators and participants of this chat. Together we can make the difference we want to see in our society.