Report of Virtual Awareness Sessions on Mental Health for Sustainable Development

As part of its commitment to reducing the prevalence and incidence of anxiety and depression among adults, teenagers and children in Nigeria, the HELP Initiative commenced sensitization meetings with civil society organizations in Nigeria. The virtual awareness seminar sought to among other things, share self-care tips to organizations’ workforce on how they can look after their mental health in this challenging time.

Each session commenced with an anxiety that sought to gauge participants’ anxiety level at present vis-à-vis three weeks before. Judging from the scores participants rated themselves at the beginning of the pandemic in Nigeria and at the time of the seminar, it was found that about 90% of the 42 participants said their anxieties had shot up very high since the lock down and gave the following reasons:

  • uncertainties of the time; fear of being infected;
  • low confidence in the ability of government to curb the pandemic;
  • increase in community transmission;
  • being locked down at home with troublesome spouse;
  • not getting work done;
  • lifting the lock down and the reducing income levels is affecting security situations and a lot of families who depend on daily income are becoming worse off
  • the level of awareness in rural population is still low
  • with the crash in oil, falling of naira, the possibility of an indefinite suspension, has genuinely increased the worry

While a few who had their anxiety levels drop over the period alluded to the fact that:

  • Being at home and taking precautions make them feel more in control
  • The emergence of local therapies to manage the pandemic
  • Safety precautions give signs of hope
  • Just accepting and adapting to the situation by doing something to protect oneself
  • I am sure I am not a carrier but one that shares valid information and sensitization on covid 19
  • I have adjusted to the new norm of working at home and staying safe
  • Seeing opportunities in the lock down

After these responses, self-care tips were shared with participants to manage their stress and anxieties.

Session with Accountability Lab

The session for Accountability Lab, a CSO dedicated to anti-corruption and accountability issues held on the 23rd of April 2020. There were (17) participants in all made up of Accountability Lab workforce and select Accountapreneurs for their 2020 cohort accountability incubator program involved in a variety of fields from investigative journalism, advocacy, filmmaking, social innovators who are its change drivers across different states of the Federation.

Session with YouthHubAfrica

YouthHubAfrica is another youth focused and youth-led organization that seeks to equip and celebrate new generation of African thinkers, leaders and innovators. A total of (18) staff participated in the virtual meeting which was held on the 29th of April.

Session with One life Initiative

It is a youth-led, youth focused CSO based in Ibadan Oyo state with its focus on SRHR for young people, Agri-preneural and Enterprise development. The session on Mental Health for Sustainable Development was held on the 28th of April with (7) participants in attendance.

Session with Education As a Vaccine

Education As a Vaccine (EVA) is another youth-led organization founded in 2000 to improve the health and development of children and young people. They work in partnership with children and young people to advance their rights to health and protection from all forms of violence. A total of 23 staff and volunteers participated in the Mental Health seminar on the 26th of June 2020