JCI, others partner with mental health expert on SDGs

Sitawa Wafula- Mental Health Activist

A psychological health advocate from Kenya, Sitawa Wafula, has visited Nigeria for a two-week awareness tour to discuss mental wellbeing in the country.

The tour organised in partnership with JCI Nigeria, BudgIT, Big & Bold and Gede Foundation would take her to six cities across the country namely: Lagos, Abuja, Abeokuta, Benin, Ibadan and Keffi where she will engage the media, government and community members on mental health.

Wafula, a non-communicable disease advocate of the Ministry of Health, Kenya, a TED Speaker and an Aspen New Voices Fellow, said Africans do not talk about mental health openly, as they consider it a taboo yet many people suffer from it.

While lamenting that instead of looking at mental health issues from a medical point of view, people reduce it to influence of curses and witchcraft, she noted that those who try to get information on it end up being misguided.

She explained that mental wellbeing was not just a health issue but a developmental issue as recently highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank, condemned African governments for not giving it a priority in their countries.

“The extent of the burden of mental health conditions in Africa is not clear but the WHO estimates that one in every four people will experience a mental health condition.

“This boils down to every household having a brush with anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, psychosis or suicide. These households, should they have the information, will then have to compete for scarce and sometimes expensive mental health services.

“Besides lack of proper data and inadequate services, policy, funding and stigma are the other areas people with mental health conditions and the sector struggle with”.

Speaking about the partnership, the President of JCI Nigeria, Richard Ojo, stated that contributing to the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was one of its objectives.

He pointed out that working with Wafula through the awareness tour was a contribution to SDG Goal 3.4, which aims to use mental health and wellbeing to reduce mortality rate from non-communicable diseases by 2030.

In this article:
JCI NigeriaSitawa WafulaWHO
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