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Awareness crucial for sustainable mental health system in Nigeria – Adefaye.

By G9ija

Vanguard’s General Manager/Editor-In-Chief, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye on Thursday stressed the need to create better understanding and awareness to unlock hidden opportunities with which to respond to Nigeria’s crucial need for sustainable mental health support and services.

To buttress his point, he cited a maxim by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), that there is no health without mental health.

Adefaye who made the remarks at the ongoing Vanguard Mental Health Summit 2022 themed: “Mental Health In a Distressed Economy” said the discourse aims to educate and inform the general public to make informed decisions and commentaries on one hand, and also to strengthen the hope and expectations of those directly affected on the other.

His words, “A year and three months ago, precisely on this same premises, we held our maiden mental health summit, that has been widely acknowledged to be the first of its kind in Nigeria.

“By boldly and effectively bringing the salient issues out from the shadows and into the light, the maiden summit helped to further break the lingering silence around mental health and mental illness.

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“We are gathered here today, second time around to continue the conversation.

“This year’s campaign focuses on the impact of the mental health crisis on the National economy. With the theme “Mental Health in a Distressed Economy”, and sub-theme “Drug Abuse: A new force driving mental health crises in Nigeria”, we are taking the discussion to the next level- a notch up.

“Through the mental health summit series, Vanguard newspaper has given a new orientation and purpose to the discourse, by educating and informing the general public to make informed decisions and commentaries on one hand, and strengthening the hope and expectations of those directly affected on the other.

“I usually tell whoever asks why Vanguard convenes this gathering annually, that we do it for just one thing: to provide information, to give education; to communicate with all.

“It is no secret that in Nigeria, access to quality, affordable mental health care is limited, and where available, inadequate generally. The stigma and discrimination around mental health issues make matters worse.

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“ur determination is that things must change and change for the better. We are proud advocates of that change through the Vanguard mental health summit series.

“Last year when the summit series was launched, it was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although that was a challenge, it also served as an opportunity : a window for us to integrate the mental health agenda into pandemic response and recovery plans.

“e know that in creating better understanding, we are helping to open up the hidden opportunities with which to respond to the nation’s crucial need for sustainable mental health support and services.

“As stated by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), ultimately, there is no health without mental health. We are not unaware of the importance of a resilient health system which is required to meet the mental and physical health needs of the population.

“By agitating for a sound mental health system, Vanguard is indirectly advocating for a resilient health system. This is just our own way of giving back to society, our own way of supporting the system for the benefit of all; a way of living up to our motto: TOWARDS A BETTER LIFE.

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“Our vision for Nigeria is an effective and comprehensive mental health system that is affordable, accessible, and provides at least the minimum required services and psychosocial support for every Nigerian.

“To everyone seated here today- (mention names of persons and institutions), thank you for joining us. As it is in our character, this year, we have again brought the best of experts and the finest of personalities.

“The menu is rich, from the appetiser to the main course, the options are palatable. Sit back as we serve you another round of dazzling round of high-level interactions. It is a full course.

“I welcome you all to the 2nd Vanguard mental health summit.” He ended.

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