By Chris Onuoha
Professor Akindotun Merino is a global leader, solutionist, and transformation enthusiast who clearly articulates the remarkable transformation of human experience through the application of mental health education and leadership concepts.
She is a chief Academic officer, business specialist, mental health advocate, system psychologist, professor, and author of several books. Merino is the Chief Executive Officer of Akin Merino Network and Jars Group of organisations which include Jars Education institute which has a focus on mental health research, training, advocacy, and treatment.
She serves as a Behavioral Health Commissioner in the county of San Bernardino in the United States where she lives.
In the past five years, Prof Merino has taken her advocacy and awareness drive to Nigeria. Through conferences and workshops held physically in Lagos, Nigeria, she was able to deal with issues that concern the mental wellbeing of the people.
She teaches people to rearrange mindsets in order to achieve more fulfilling lives and how to create portals of success in their families and communities. She works with governments, educators, businesses, and individuals to identify and develop operational strategies for the next stage of growth.
Recently, she inspired another summit held virtually with the theme: “Nigeria Behavioral and Mental Health care in Nigeria: a trauma-informed approach.”
This was an all-important conference that drew influential mental health care stakeholders together for a common goal; discussions and proffering solutions to mental health challenges in the country with a major focus on trauma. It is a consortium that put together all the stakeholders in the mental health space participating and provided a structure for a way forward.
Prof. Merino in her earlier remarks spoke about the need to have a holistic approach to dealing with traumatic situations as it is a major cause of mental health imbalance among people with such issues.
She explained how mental healthcare is practiced in the United States in comparison to Nigeria while posing a teaser as to who should be involved in this practice.
Among the experts who featured on the virtual programme include Dr. Mustafa T. Sanbe, Dr. Adebowale, Dr. Bolaji Adesanya, and other contributors. The programme was anchored by Professor Akindotun Merino.
In her remarks, Merino stressed; “We need mental health care in all areas of our lives, and it is a call for all: parents, laymen, and all the stakeholders in the mental healthcare practice.
“She spoke about professionals, having access to do what they are supposed to do and also mentioned that Nigeria is a country that is moving in the trajectory of mental health wellness and awareness.
She worried that to get things done in this country, ‘you have to lobby consistently and always answer the questions as to why should I be doing what I am doing.”
The experts deliberated on two key points that focused on training and learning. Merino noted that knowledge ahead of the certificate must be a priority.
According to her, “learning is a change of behaviour. When you learn and have a lot of certificates without change in your mindsets positively, that means no learning has taken place.”
“You can’t give what you don’t have. If your learning is below average, it won’t work because you are dealing with the mind, emotions, and medication. So, for you to transform the situation, you have to get to adequate knowledge,” remarked Merino.