NGO Advocates for Mental Health Awareness to Eradicate Stigmatization

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An NGO, Progressive Minds International Foundation (PMIF), has advocated for awareness creation activities and investment on mental health to eradicate stigmatization in society.

Vice-President of the organization, Mr. Christopher Nwaja made the call on Sunday during the organization’s visitation and presentation of donated items to Bethy Torrey Home (Home for the mentally challenged) at Amuwo-Odofin in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that PMIF is an organization concerned with an individual’s well being and interest in creating awareness about mental health in Nigeria.

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Nwaja stressed the need for collaboration between the three tiers of government to enhance access to quality mental healthcare services in the country.

“Mental health should be given the seriousness it deserves by government, individuals, and development organizations.

“Due to stigmatization, a lot of people especially educated ones hide their mental challenges to families, friends, or health experts.

“Our mental health awareness campaign is aimed at raising awareness on mental health and inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all,” he said.

Nwaja said that one of the goals of the organization was to bring smiles to people who were mentally, physically and health challenged in Lagos and the country at large.

“In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the theme of our event will be focusing on the relationship between kindness and our mental health.

“We are celebrating the act of kindness that have emerged while the world has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Part of the reasons, we are visiting mentally challenged homes to show them the importance of kindness and the role that it plays in our mental health,” he said.

Nwaja said that studies had shown that practicing kindness to people could boost serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain which results in feeling good and happy hormones.

“While negative emotions such as anger and jealousy contribute to the production of the control stress hormone, which can lead to a weakened immune system and poor physical health.

“People should also know that to be kind in their daily lives can reduce stress and improve their emotional well being and physical health,” Nwaja said.

According to him, the organization plans to visit mental health facilities in the state to show an act of kindness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said PMIF would support their staff and patients through therapy sessions and presentation of gifts.

“Some of our members are trained health professionals on mental, psychological and they will aid service to people struggling with psychological and mental health issues

“In the future, we want more health professionals and organizations to support or join our campaign on mental health,” he said.

In a remark, Mrs. Veronica Obi, Matron of the Home, lauded the gesture, adding it would go a long way to improve the well being of the inmates.

Obi said that the Home was meant for intellectually challenged children and currently had 23 inmates ranging from one-year-old to 58-years old.

“We provide an enabling environment for the development of mentally and physically challenged members of the Lagos community who need the care and empathy.

“This Home was established by late Ms. Elizabeth Torrey in 1961 and is currently sustained by the friends.

“We are purely funded by charity, so all our feedings and welfare come from charity and people’s donations,” she said.

Obi called on governments, organizations, and individuals to contribute towards the expansion of the facility through the construction of hostels and halls, noting that it had enough land for expansion.

“We also need more financial donations which will help us to employ enough staff for easy operation of the home,” she said

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