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Why We Prioritised Mental Health Campaign – Niah Foundation

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Rasaq Adebayo

The founder of Niah Foundation—a non-governmental organisation (NGO) committed to mental health awareness campaigns—Miss Chenaniah Bamishile has disclosed that her Foundation is committed to a nationwide mental health campaign, given the rate of depression and mental illnesses among Nigerians, coupled with the lack of programmes geared towards educating low-income members of the community about mental health management and its importance in our daily lives.

She said this while distributing packs of foodstuff to some beneficiaries at Gowon Estate, Egbeda in Alimosho Local Government Area.

According to her, the food serves as a palliative to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal on the vulnerable ones in the community such as widows, widowers, and single mums who struggle daily to make a living.

“Though the Foundation is dedicated to mental health awareness, we notice that in Nigeria, people are not inclined to listen to anyone talking about their mental health. So, we organise outreaches to meet their needs and we also use that platform to talk to them about their mental health.

“We have different sessions and workshops targeted at different communities that we reach out to. We have outreaches like this one where we donate foodstuff to the people in the community, blood donation drives, medical outreaches in various communities, clothing donation drives, period poverty alleviation outreaches, school renovations and we also have programmes for school children where we talk to the kids about mental health. Our most recent outreach was one targeted at widows where we spoke to them about grief, loneliness, and mental health.

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Every year, Grief Awareness Day falls on the 30th of August, and in light of that, we had an outreach on the 26th of August, 2023, which was a food palliative outreach for widows and single mums. We were able to provide food packages to over a hundred single mums, and widows that would last them about two to three weeks. These packages contained rice, beans, garri, and other food items.

The outreach was held at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Gowon Estate, Egbeda. The target community cuts across three local councils and the St. Vincent de Paul community within the church has been a strong pillar for these people in need to rest on. We are looking forward to doing more for the people in that community and of course, other communities across Lagos State.”

Bamishile explained that the Foundation is making determined efforts to make sure that mental health is taken seriously in the country.

She charged the governments at all levels to concentrate on the mental health of the citizens, especially the youths, saying that mental health is just as important as physical health, and renewed efforts to improve this aspect of Nigerian lives would improve the society at large.

Finally, she appealed to the government, organisations, and other philanthropists in society to support the mental health campaigns and the various support initiatives the Foundation provided to those who need it, especially during this period of economic hardship.

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