A couple of years ago, I recall feeling tired, generally unwell, and a bit cranky – being a hypochondriac, I went to the hospital and all my tests came back fine, so I was asked to just get some rest. A few days after, I still didn’t feel 100%, so I went back again, and the doctor confirmed for the umpteenth time that there was nothing wrong with me physiologically. But this time, she proceeded to ask me a few questions about my lifestyle, work etcetera, and then she made me complete a short form that was meant to help assess my state of mind albeit at a high level. After the consultation, the Dr. recommended a low dose of anti-depressants and to practice “mindfulness”. Now that’s not the story, it was the reaction of family members that I told that the doctor had recommended anti-depressants that got me. From shouts of I reject in Jesus’ name to we don’t have depression in Africa. Suffice to say, I didn’t take the meds and figured there was nothing a bit of rest wouldn’t address. As educated and exposed as I was, I lowkey subscribed to the notion that as an African – depression was not a thing.
With such socio-cultural beliefs, it is no wonder that Africa as a region has a very low mental healthcare worker to patient ratio of 1.4 per 100,000 compared with a global average of 9.0 per 100,000.
This is more mind-boggling when the link is made to Africa’s growing youth population who are already struggling to earn a livelihood in highly competitive labor markets and the susceptibility to mental disorder.
Chinasa is joined by Dr. Kenneth Uwajeh to discuss the topic, "Empowering the African Youth: The case for Mental Independence".
Dr. Kenneth Uwajeh - executive director of the Healthy Mind foundation and a West Africa certified specialist in Psychiatry with a Master’s in Public Health from George Washington University.
One of the key objectives of the foundation is to expunge the stigma around mental illness through an intervention called the Psych to CEO. A 360-degree mental health service delivery system that takes a patient from the psychiatric wards to the CEO suite. Kenneth strongly believes that mental resilience gives emotional and financial freedom.
Healthy Mind, Foundation, through various partners has served over 1 million Nigerians through awareness, coaching, mentoring, medication, and therapy solutions both online and in-person.
Kenneth as a past Rotary president, Resident Doctors president, Student Ambassador at George Washington, and an award-winning Toastmaster has used his leadership platforms to spread the gospel of mental health.
His ultimate desire is to share the gospel of mental health as a panacea for the African situation which is hinged on Freedom: the choice to choose our state of Mind.