Youth at the event
The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos, in collaboration with Strategy for Mentoring Initiative and Leadership Empowerment (SMILE) and the Lagos State Government office for Youth and Social Development observed the 2014 International Youth Day with panel discussion on the theme: Youth and Mental Health – Mental Health matters’.
The event which attracted 828 participants comprising of 46% female and 54% male; representatives of 23 media organisations; 35 voluntary and non-governmental organisations; five government Agencies and four United Nations organisations, featured four panelists which included a Psychiatrist, Wellness Expert, Psycho-therapist and a general Medical Practitioner.
In his message on the occasion, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, noted that “Mental health is how we feel; it is our emotions and well-being. We all need to take care of our mental health so that we lead satisfying lives. Let us begin to talk about our mental-health in the same way we talk about our overall health.” The message which was read by UNIC Lagos Senior Public Information Officer, Ms Envera Selimovic, added that everyone should remember that with understanding and assistance, young people with mental health conditions could flourish and make valuable contributions to our collective future.
Setting the tone for the panel discussion were Miss Amaka Efughi (23 years) and Mr Kalid Sotonye (22 years) who gave testimonies about their past drug addiction and mental conditions which cost them their university education at the time and six years of their lives. They expressed their happiness about their rescue, rehabilitation and re-enrolment back to the university.
In her welcome address, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Hon. Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, urged stakeholders to pay attention to the 15 factors that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had identified as relevant to mental health among youth, some of which are education, unemployment, poverty, drug abuse, armed conflicts, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), among others. She was represented by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Youth and Social Development, Dr Dolapo Badru.
The occasion was also used to disseminate preventive public information on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) when UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, made a presentation on “Ebola: What you need to know” while officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health later distributed public information leaflets on the disease.
Closing the event, the President, Strategy for Mentoring Initiative and Leadership Empowerment (SMILE), Mrs Bimpe Bamgbose-Martins, thanked UNIC for its commitment to promoting partnership and synergy with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) in addressing some societal issues that are of interest to the United Nations.