By Prisca Sam-Duru

In a colourful ceremony featuring international fashion models, the Mental Health Fellowship launched its ‘Mentally A-Wear’ global campaign.

 Held precisely on July 2nd, 2022, the virtual programme was as part of the Fellowship’s efforts towards helping to address mental health issues which is increasing among people globally.

The launch featured a panel session handled by two international models; Ololade Ibrahim and Bakare Mubarak; founder/ Executive Director and convener of the Mentally A- Wear campaign, Kunle Adewale; and Consultant Psychiatrist/ Mental Health advocate, Dr. Gbonjubola Abiri. The keynote speech was delivered by Chief Consultant Psychiatrist/Public Health physician, Dr. Mashudat Bello-Mojeed. The importance of fashion especially in relation to creating awareness about mental health issues, formed the major subject of discussion during the panel discussion session.

Dr Gbonjubola Abiri who expressed how excited he was to be on the panel, described fashion as “a vehicle to put information out there”, adding that, “Mental health is everyone’s business.”

While the two international models; Ololade and Bakare shared their experiences about how mental health is mostly ignored in the fashion industry, Ololade posited that the way forward was “Acceptance and learning to reject without condescension”.

 “We need to pay more attention and be our brother’s keeper”, Mubarak, tipped as the tallest model in sub-Saharan Africa added.

On his part, while reflecting on how past experiences have inspired him to embark on life saving projects, the convener, Kunle Adewale disclosed that he is  committed to filling gaps in the Nigerian mental health sphere and the world at large. According to him, the Mentally A-Wear global campaign is a “non-verbal approach to humanize, fashionize and de-stigmatize mental health, with the end game of furthering acceptance about it”. “Mentally-A-Wear is a clothing brand that uses the power of fashion to build community, and promote mental health through awareness and education. Our goal is to spark conversation and inspire action in alliance with SDG 3: Good health and Wellbeing globally; to make mental health fashionable and to normalize mental health through fashion, communication and branding built around self-expression and individuality”. The campaign which continues as an annual programme, running for 100 days he explained, is aimed also to mobilize 10,000 advocates to enable sustainable mental health advocacy for 100 days preceding the world mental health day coming up in October 10. 

Different sample shirts with soul lifting phrases such as, “you are not your mistakes” , “Hope looks good on you”, “Free hugs here” etc, were brandished at the virtual event.

 In his impactful and instructive keynote speech titled, “Mentally A-wear: Come right in”, Dr. Mashudat Bello-Mojeed, took the audience through what mental health is and isn’t, and also what roles fashion seeks to play in de-stigmatizing mental health. “The branded fashion wears can be a sign of hope, a show of acceptance”, she said.

On a final note, Kunle Adewale explained how the global community can participate in the Mentally-A-Wear campaign. “By purchasing the Mentally-A-Wear fashionable materials, Individuals can help to spread the message of hope, health, help and healing in the community by wearing the materials to social gatherings, workplaces, faith-based gatherings, schools, and corporate events etc, and sharing pictures and videos with messages on your materials on your social media platforms. Use hashtags #WorldMentalhealth #MentallyAwear #MentalHealthMatters #IamMentallyaware”.

The Mentally-a-wear launch had participants from the United Kingdom, United States, Nigeria and other African countries.

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