A World Health Organization research states that one in Seven, 10 – 19-year-olds experience mental disorders and account for 13% of the global issue in this age group. In Nigeria, the myths about mental illness, the dearth of mental health practitioners and caregivers, and limited budgetary allocation to mental health account for the high prevalence of depression. These factors place Nigeria as the 15th country in the global index of suicide occurrence.
“The consequences of failing to address adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and Mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults” - World Health Organization (WHO)
Gender Mobile's experience working with adolescents in Ekiti State identified low socioeconomic status, history of sexual abuse, family dysfunction, and drug abuse as significant factors that exacerbate the prevalence of mental health challenges experienced by young people. Adolescents with mental health challenges are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion, discrimination, stigma (affecting readiness to seek help), educational difficulties and human rights violations.
In partnership with Global Youth Mobilization (GYM), we implement the Adolescent Wellness Hub program through an awareness-based approach to improve mental health education and access to mental health care services, reduce the stigma around adolescent mental health challenges, mitigate substance abuse amongst young people and enhance education on gender-based violence prevention and response. The consequences of failing to address adolescent mental health challenges extend to adulthood, which negatively affects opportunities and mental well-being for a fulfilling life as adults.
We Commenced a 4-week sensitization on the mental health of in-school adolescents from June 2022 in three (3) schools within Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State. Adolescent boys and girls were exposed to educational resources on mental health, predisposing factors to mental health disorders, symptoms and stigmatization associated with mental health challenges, and mental healthcare-seeking behaviour. We also engaged young people in community-level activities, classroom-based learning, peer education and access to psychosocial support and counselling services. Our beneficiaries also participate in sports and games activities to improve their physical and mental well-being.
Here is what some of the participating students had to say during the 4-week adolescent wellness training:
“Being in the school’s Gender Club, opened my understanding to know that the side effect of hard drugs and substances goes beyond being a cool kid or madness, it could lead to a lot more including death. I also learnt how to take care of my mental health.”
Monday David - AUD Comprehensive High School SS 2
“I liked the training; the facilitators and team members were very nice when they spoke to us about our mental health and answered all our questions. I like that they came to our school to teach us about mental health.”
Halima - Olaoluwa Muslim Grammar School SS2
“I learnt to use my voice better at home and in school. My younger ones will no longer suffer in silence again. I will teach them to ‘soro soke’ (Speak Out)”
Iteoluwakishi - All Souls’ Anglican High School SS2
“... I had a hard time speaking out about all that going on in my mind because of … After this training I now know I can't be defined by my past.”
“This training has opened me to the effect of mental health issues, and having mental health issues does not mean I am mad.”
Bukola - All Souls’ Anglican High School SS2
At Gender Mobile, we are committed to supporting adolescents as we recognise the importance of mental wellness and its implications. We also urge individuals, organizations, state and non-state actors to uphold their commitment to the collective responsibility of ensuring continued advocacy on prioritizing the promotion of education and awareness of mental wellness for adolescents.