THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS PRESENTED ON THE OCCASION OF WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY ON OCTOBER 10TH 2020.
THEME: GREATER INVESTMENT-GREATER ACCESS
By Engr. Nnamdi louis Ucheoma
The Hon. Commissioner of Agriculture:
The Hon. Permanent Secretary, Min. of Agriculture:
The Hon. SSA to the Governor on Youth affairs:
Special Guests of Honor:
Distinguished Ladies and Gentle Men,
The Press and all Protocols duly observed
I want to start by appreciating God Almighty for the gift of a sound mind and for giving us the enablement to converge in order to improve the mental health of Imo citizens. It is my pleasure to address you on this topical issue: “Mental health for all- greater investment- greater access.” this 10th day of October 2020. We have gathered here to chart a new course forward despite the negative effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on our mental health. Nevertheless, we are optimistic that this event would present a fresh opportunity for us to enhance our productivities. Mental health is everyone’s business because it gives us the ability to cope with life, play a full part in your family, work place and among our friends. Factually, our mental health does not always stay the same because of the fluctuating social-economic realities of our society. The World Mental Health Day is a day set aside to evolve actions and awareness, prevention and cure of mental health related illnesses. The idea behind this program stems from the consequences of our inattention to mental health as well the negligence of mentally deranged individuals. Admittedly, the disconnect has not been addressed because our Churches and other religious institution have been overburdened and the government cannot resolve this menace alone.
According to the World Health Organization, close to 1 billion people are living with mental health disorders, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of drugs and alcohol. And one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide. Distressingly, the World Economic Forum predicts that mental health disorders could cost global economy $ 16 trillion from 2010 to 2030. In other words, the lost productivity results from depression and anxiety which are the two most common mental health disorders. Significantly, 75% of people with mental, neurological and sub-disorders receive no treatment at all.
Fred Rogers instructively highlighted; “Anything that is human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” The widespread discrimination and victimization of mental health patients informed the establishment of Rebuild Africa Foundation. It is a Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to eradicate the cultural and traditional norms that stigmatizes mental health patients. The foundation has held several meetings and rallies, since its inception in 2018. It has organized seminars and workshops and we recently produced a movie entitled; “RACHEL’S TRIUMPH” to put an end to the infringement of the fundamental rights of mental health victims. As a foundation, we are concerned with this negligence by the government and society which has affected our overall productivity as state and we are determined to build momentum by raising awareness on mental health issues.
It is pertinent to note that ‘anyone can become mentally sick through natural, physical, social or psychological sudden traumatic occurrence.’ Hence, the need to tackle the root causes of mental health disorders and negligence emanating from poor employee engagement, high staff turnover, failure to attract talents and brain drain, decreased productivity, widespread violence and crime and all indicators of festering health challenge become imperative.
To this effect, the Rebuild Africa Foundation have unashamedly keyed in to the global theme: Greater Investment – Greater Access, to boldly raise our consciousness on the need for all stakeholders to invest in this integral aspect of the economy. Our focus is on promoting the overall wellbeing the citizenry. We drew insight from the former W.H.O. Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom G. whose drive in 2018 is to create a special initiative for 100 million people to have access to quality and affordable mental health centers by 2023 and to ensures billions of people have universal health coverage.
OUR ADVOCACY MESSAGE
This strategic opportunity presents the government, religious institution and other civil societies a platform to unify our resources for the campaign and prevention of mental health disorders in Imo state. Furthermore, this collaborative action is intended to increase public attention by reducing the curve of mental health pandemic and to link specialized experts to mental health patients while providing care in difficult circumstances. This approach would redress the neglect by our leaders. We are poised to engender a platform for organizations to make a more robust commitment to scale up investment in mental health cases, given its socio-economic consequences. The youth must not be left out in this exercise because they constitute the majority of our populace, therefore, an increased empowerment of the youth is our watchword, since they are the most affected victims of mental health disorder. A sound mind is a productive mind and a healthy mind affects the way outcomes of our institutions. This day presents a new beginning and it ushers us into a new world, and it offers us a new way of doing new things.
Rebuild Africa Foundation is rebuilding the eroded systems and public institutions holistically by bringing the mental health issues to the front burner. We have opened up a conversation. The time is right to get it right in the words of Dr. Ingrid Daniel, “But now we must turn words into action. We need to see concerted efforts being made to build mental health systems that are appropriate for today’s and tomorrow’s world.,” At Rebuild Africa Foundation we are taking the lead in putting an end to stigmatization. ”Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” A statement credited to Bill Clinton.” We are encouraged by the 3R initiative of the Imo State government of shared prosperity of His excellency, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, who reiterates that, “health is wealth and true prosperity can be achieved by a healthy population.” It is our utmost desires that the government will respond positively to this clarion call through policies that are targeted at enhancing our Human capital and mental health. It is our call for all and sundry to unite for global health and contribute towards the actualization of this historic agenda.
Lastly, may I conclude with the powerful statements of Glen Close who emphasized: “What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” It is our hope that our deliberate action would yield fruitful results in rebuilding and transforming our overall mental health. Thank you and God bless you!
Engr. Nnamdi Louis Ucheoma
(CEO Rebuild Africa Foundation)