This focus is very timely as it comes when Nigerians are beginning to see the importance of giving people suffering from depression the much needed attention. Indeed, there was a new awakening about depression last month when news about a certain Lagos doctor, Allwell Orji jumping off the 3rd Mainland Bridge and into the Lagoon went viral.
In most parts of Africa, people suffering from depression are treated so despicably. Some are chained hand and foot and dumped in filthy rooms, others are stigmatized. Most of them are called mad and some even claimed a dark spell has been cast on them by evil people from their village. Most Africans still do not understand how to handle a loved one suffering from depression.
According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide with over 300 million people now living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015.
Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.
I hope that this year’s health focus on depression will help majority of Africans understand that depressed relatives and friends can live normal lives with professional counseling and medication.
Photo Credit: Robin Hammond/WitnessChange.org