As the world marks the World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2022, the National Association of Seadogs – Pyrates Confraternity has expressed concern that this year’s event does not end up as “mere ritual for speech making and grand declarations that fail to speak to the issues. We therefore use this to call on the relevant stakeholders to ensure that concrete steps that will frontally address the issue are taken.”
The association said as a country presented with another opportunity to focus on and address an issue that has continued to be a source of concern, noted that mental illness has evolved into what behavioral scientists call a phenomenon and the data is such that if we continue to ignore it, we do so at our collective peril.
This year’s event, according to the group, has the theme: Make Mental Health and Wellbeing for All A Global Priority is important as it seeks to draw attention to the issues relating to mental health.
Mental wellness according to the WHO is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Mental ill-health has grown into a global menace; a report from The Adracare Team states that 1 out of 5 Americans aged 18 and above, live with mental illness. However, more alarming is the statistics released in a 2019 report of the World Health Organization, (WHO) which reveals that one in four Nigerians – some 50 million people are suffering from some sort of mental illness. Even more worrisome is the fact that the same report states that the country is nowhere near equipped to tackle the problem. Instances of suicide which most often is precipitated by mental illness has been burgeoning of late. There have been several cases of individuals that jumped to their death on the 3rd Mainland Bridge in what we may preliminarily categorize as anomic suicide.
A statement by Olamide Oni Capoon, Sahara Deck, National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates’ Confraternity), Abuja City Centre said, “while we recognize that there is a multiplicity of factors that may predispose to mental illness, some of the most common in our shores are: use of recreational drugs, poverty, traumatic experience – especially common among those unfortunate enough to have been at the receiving end of the horrors of boko-haram insurgency, kidnap victims and genetic factors, poor medical and professional care, cultural practices, superstition, and social stigma. Poor medical and professional care, certain cultural practices, superstition, and social stigma are also among the factors that tend to exacerbate mental ill-health. Families of mentally ill persons keep them in hiding, more concerned about their social standing that seek medical care for them. There is also a dearth of specialized medical institutions and certified psychiatrists in the country. Some communities and cultures see mental illness as a curse and therefore believe the cure is in exorcisms and other spiritual means.”
Text of the statement further read: “As members of the National Association of Seadogs – Pyrates Confraternity, we believe firmly in a just and equitable society where everyone is as much as possible, exposed to equal life’s chances. We therefore use this to call on the relevant agencies of government and other stakeholders to use this opportunity to formulate policies that speak to the very heart of the issues, repeal the old legislations on the subject while passing new laws with input from the critical stakeholders. When there is a well formulated policy in place, then there can be appropriations at new budget cycles wherein the government can fund the establishment of institutional structures that address the peculiar problem. Specialized hospitals can be sited at the various urban centers and certified mental health personnel trained. Preventive measures such as fighting the menace of drug abuse especially among the youths, improving the general quality of life through a robust and growing economy are some of the preventive measures that can also be applied.”
In commemoration of this year’s “World Mental Health Day”; the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), Sahara Deck – Abuja City Centre, has concluded plans to donate drugs to patients at the Behavioral Home in Karu, Abuja. The group will also embark on a 7-kilometer morning walk to sensitize members of the public on the need to take mental health seriously, in line with this year’s theme: “Make mental health and wellbeing for all; a global priority”.
“According to the latest United Nations data, nearly one billion people worldwide suffer from some form of mental disorder, and one in seven teenagers are affected. In Nigeria, over 60 million people suffer from mental illnesses, according to the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN). Despite the huge number of people affected globally, mental disorders are widely under-reported in the media, a situation that forces the issue to the background, in global health discourse.
“Therefore, to draw more attention to this global menace, NAS Sahara Deck invites members of the public to participate in its health walk, slated for Monday, October 10. The Capoon of National Association of Seadogs, Sahara Deck, Olamide Oni, called on governments at all levels to prioritize reducing the factors that predispose people to mental illness and improving conditions that people need to thrive. Later in the month, the deck will also be having a public lecture on mental health; where experts in the field will be invited to x-ray issues as it concerns mental health.”