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Art is a great solution to mental health issues – Dr. Okoye

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By Gabriel Olawale

In recent times there have been more cases of suicide and other mental crisis in Nigeria, United States and other parts of the world.

One would ordinarily think with the technology available at our disposal, mental health issues wouldn’t span until 2018, but the reverse is the case.

Dr. Victor Okoye Frank at the American Public Health Association Conference 2017 in Atlanta

A recent research by the American Foundation of Suicide prevention, reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with an average of 123 suicides daily, 25 suicide attempts and over forty thousand death by suicide per year in America, while Nigeria, according to World Health Organization, WHO, ranked 5th on annual suicide list with 15,000 suicide in every 100,000 suicide cases.

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WHO’s research of the annual suicide list published by Spectator Index on July 29, 2018, confirmed Nigeria and the U.S to be 5th and 6th respectively, while South Korea, Russia, India and Japan are the first four suicide-prone countries. Different scientists have stated how mental health issues can be resolved, but Dr. Victor Okoye Frank has developed a unique way to end mental health issues.

Dr. Okoye is an award winning filmmaker and a member of board of advisor of Art with Impact group – a NGO based in San Francisco, whose sole goal is promoting mental health through filmmaking, a vision shared by the wife of the Vice President of the United States, Karen Pence through a similar outfit that promotes mental health through active art making – in her words “art therapy is about enriching lives of individuals going through some sort of mental health crisis with active art making, creative process and applying psychological theory within a psycho therapeutic relationship.”

The doctor who has devoted his degree to creating films that address mental health issues is known for one his earliest works “Creative Minds” that was recognized as the best short documentary at the Afrinolly Film Fest of 2014.

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Speaking on his approach to solving mental health issues, Dr. Okoye who has his latest movie titled “Purpose”, said in a recent interview, that “if a person’s feelings and actions are influenced by what they see and hear, that knowledge can be employed in cases of mental health crisis, by creating an art work that provides a point of reference for the individual, such that it gives them a new perspective on what they are going through.

“This means creating a real story, one that is relatable to the patient, and presenting it in a manner that is entertaining and captivating. Then ask a question, and your patient will find an answer,” he said, adding that entertainers should start addressing mental health with their crafts.

Dr Okoye’s work have been screen by the American Public Health Association, APHA, during their conference in 2017 and is currently being played across colleges in the United States as part of counseling program organized by “Art With Impact.

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