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Advocacy

HACEY / Advocacy

In Nigeria, issues of mental health and its awareness is spreading fast. In the past, naked or half-clothed individuals who roamed the streets or cities formed the perception of mental illness in Nigeria, as these persons were referred to as lunatics because they lived and ate garbage from the streets. Moreover, people widely believed that their condition was incurable; therefore, leading to a lack of adequate treatment.

World Health Organization states that mental health is an essential component of health, as it is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition implies that mental health is critical to a person’s ability to think, operate and interact with his environment, earn a living and enjoy life.

The World Health Organization reports that one-quarter of the world’s population comprises young people between 10 – 24 years. In Nigeria, adolescents and young people make up 31% of the entire population. NURHI reports indicated that about one-quarter of Nigerian adolescents are sexually active, with sexual debut ranging from 10-15 years. 

Let’s look at Grace’s story (real name withheld). At 17, Grace got admission to the great University of Lagos to study Medicine & Surgery. Grace was excited to move with her Uncle in Lagos, away from her parents, because she heard Lagos was fun. Uncle Gbade, a single working-class man who lived in a rented apartment, was happy to receive Grace. However, two weeks upon arrival, the COVID-19 lockdown was announced, and Grace and Uncle Gbade were locked in the apartment. 

by Jolaade Olatunbosun

Leaving had never been an option for Maria, especially not in this part of the world; leaving one’s family is like a stigma, a stain not easily washed off even with the thickest bleach. Yes, she loves her children and has endured all the abuse and shame her husband has meted out to them, but now she has to do what is right for herself – put herself first! Because even to love her children, she has to be alive.

As in the case of Maria, several factors such as culture, religion, and social norms play a significant role when it comes to deciding whether or not to leave an abusive marriage. Unfortunately, most women like Maria tend to silently endure the abuse inflicted by their husbands because of society talks, stigmatization, hunger, fear of being single parents, low self-esteem crippled due to their many years of battering.

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