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By Fortune Eromosele — Abuja

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has attributed drug abuse to most cases of mental problems among young people.

This is even as he said the future of Nigeria depends on the younger generation, hence, the need to rid them of harmful substances that could hinder them from achieving their goals and dreams.

He stated this in Port-Harcourt at a One Day seminar on Mental Health Intervention tagged: “Friends of the Brain Club,” organized by Emma Njoku Foundation.

A statement made available to newsmen on Friday in Abuja, said he (Ehanire) lauded efforts of the Foundation in routing the spectacular direction that harps on the nation’s well-being as drugs tend to destroy the younger generation.

Ehanire, ably represented by the Chief Medical Director of University of Port-Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Prof Henry Ugboma said, “the future and productivity of any nation depend on her younger population, especially where the youths constitute the majority or a significant proportion of the population. Anything that threatens the well-being of the youth, therefore, must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“Youths, in general, face challenges especially adolescents and younger adults. These challenges if not appropriately dealt with can lead to mental health problems or cause them unhealthy behaviour as coping mechanisms. Untreated mental health challenges and substance abuse problems are some of the greatest threats to youths achieving their lives’ aspirations and potentials.”

According to the statement, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, endorsed Emma Njoku Foundation as NDLEA WADA Advocate in Rivers state, calling on stakeholders to join hands in the war against drug abuse.

The agency’s boss, Brig. Gen. MB Marwa, charged parents and adults on the need to be taught how to handle drug use or abuse especially as it concerns identifying some behavioural issues like, lack of interest in hobbies or family activities, sudden or extreme changes in friends, hostile or uncooperative attitude and secrecy, stealing and sometimes use of cover-ups like mosquito coils even in the afternoons.

Earlier, the Program Manager, Emma Njoku Foundation, Maxwell Ezelagu Esq, giving details about the foundation stated that recently a survey revealed that about a tenth of adults, an estimated 450 million people worldwide are affected by mental disorders at any one time.

Similarly, the Founder of the Foundation, Emma Njoku Esq, in his welcome address pointed out that the “Friends of the Brain Club”, is an initiative of ENF geared towards quality advocacy/ awareness campaigns which is targeted to help raise consciousness of the adverse effect of drug abuse and the need for healthy living.

“It is hoped to transform to better livelihood and reduction in the abuse of illicit drugs in our society.

“As we launch this club in tertiary, secondary schools and communities, we hope that this advocacy will impact positively on our future generations and provide a base for the understanding of proactive ways for a better society”, he said.

According to the statement, dignitaries in attendance were, Sir Emmanuel Nwauju,Representative of Permanent Secretary and  Hon commissioner of Youths and Sports, Silver line Obama, for  Hon. Commissioner of Education, Dr. Imoh Ukong, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Enyinda Nnonye – Head of Department, Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, Rumuigbo, Rivers State, Dr.  Richard Ebeh – Clinical Psychologist, Imo State University, Owerri, Mark Balm Iduama (DCN)  Representative of Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa  (Chairman, NDLEA), Chief Benson Agadaga- Chief of Staff, Bayelsa State amongst many others.

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