By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
VANGUARD newspapers will, today, hold the maiden edition of its Mental Health Summit, themed: ‘Mobilising for Systemic Change and Better Mental Health Care in Nigeria.’
The annual event, which will be declared open by the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, at the EKO Hotel and Towers, Victoria Island, Lagos, is designed to initiate change in the management of mental health, and promote support systems for those affected in Nigeria.
The event, which will be chaired by a professor of Public Health and Epidermiology, Prof. Akin Osibogun, is also aimed at breaking the culture of silence around mental health disorders, and reducing the rising cases of suicide among Nigerians.
The Medical Director, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Olugbenga Owoeye, will deliver the keynote address.
Other eminent speakers, from both the public and private sectors, will be looking at topics including: ‘Overview of Mental Health in Nigeria’; ‘Overcoming Stigma and Discrimination Associated with Mental Disorders Through Rehabilitation’, and ‘The Role of the Faith Community in Maintaining Mental Health’.
Speakers at the event are the President of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria, APN, Dr. Taiwo Sheikh; MD/CEO, Pinnacle Medical Services, Lagos, Dr. Maymunah Kadiri; Founder/Convener, Arise Women, Dr. Siju Iluyomade, and Training Coordinator, Suicide Prevention Research Initiative of Nigeria, SURPIN, Ms. Titilayo Tade.
Also panellists lined up for the event are Prof Ralph Akinfeleye, a Health Communication Specialist; Dr Peter Oluseun Ogunnubi, a Consultant Psychiatrist; Dr Veronica Nyamali, Vice President, APN; Mrs Ebun Anozie, CEO, Care Organisation Public Enlightenment, COPE; Princess Olapeju Sofowora, Chairperson, OISA Foundation; Mrs Sade Ajayi, Trustee, What Am I To Talk, WAITT, and Dr Martin Agwogie, Founder/Executive Director, Global Initiative on Substance Abuse, GISA.
Commenting on the Summit, Vanguard’s GM/Editor-in-Chief, Mr Gbenga Adefaye said the event is bringing together the best of health experts, advocates, educators, faith leaders, and other veterans in the management and care of mental disorders in the country.
Adefaye said: “Vanguard has a proven track record of initiating discourse around issues of public relevance that inspire community interest while engaging conversations for sustainable change.
“The Vanguard Mental Health Summit is aimed at initiating change in the management of mental health in Nigeria by improving knowledge, mobilising leadership, and fostering collaboration at all levels.
“The Summit will advance the conversation about mental health challenges, successes, and opportunities at the individual, family, workplace, group, community and national levels.
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“The Summit will also examine barriers to universal mental healthcare and propose ways of creating more mentally healthy Nigerian communities through existing healthcare and social services systems.
“Our goal is to have a Nigeria in which people afflicted by a mental health challenge aren’t suffering in silence and that we have the capacity to pull together the resources, support and love that’s possible to go after an extraordinary challenge in our society.
“The main goal of this maiden Summit is not to start another conversation; it is to continue the existing one.
“The goal of all this is about elevating that conversation that is already on to national level and bring mental illness out of the shadows.
“We want to let people living with mental health challenges know that they are not alone, and that it is not the end, and that with the support and commitment of all, there is hope.”