Collaborators and Collaborations for the Mentally ill.

Concluding February with the Social Media Week in Lagos, wraps up the significance of this month for my blog – I DARE TO BLOSSOM – which started in February 2014. I still can’t stop thinking, of how nice it would be to have: ‘How Technology and Social Media engagement can change the narrative of Mental Health in Africa’, included in the Social Media Week Lagos 2018. I think it would be a great way to reach a larger audience of the African society who are not mentally aware and provide mental health organizations in Nigeria, with an opportunity to collaborate.

Prior to when I started blogging about my personal journey as a Mental Health Survivor and a Bipolar Warrior, discussions on mental health always triggered a mixture of sadness and anger in my heart. Sadness, because, of the lack of awareness on the subject, anger, because, when I was diagnosed in 2003 with Bipolar Disorder, there were not many people who were willing to share their mental health recovery stories.

With time, this mixture of sadness and anger became a burden to see that more people become aware of what it meant to be mentally ill, and that persons managing bipolar disorder in Nigeria would be able to access my experience and recovery journey.
This is why the response of MANI to my thought on having ‘How Technology and Social Media engagement can change the narrative of Mental Health in Africa’ included in the Social Media Week Lagos, gladdens my heart.

“It’s a very much realizable dream and we might not even need SMW to organize such an event. Proper and long term planning will be key though” – MANI

The more Collaborations we have on creating awareness for mental health matters in Nigeria, the better the reception of the subject would be. And hopefully, with time, the stigma around mental health in Nigeria will end.
Really, if the rest of the world would recognise what the challenges of being mentally ill in Africa are, and what the challenges of managing a mental health diagnoses are, it would not only help in creating an opportunity for them to collaborate and invest in the mental health system of Nigeria, it would also help to give mental health a voice by creating a picture of the mental health system we want the rest of the world to see.

As at 2014, it was still difficult to get accurate data and statistics on bipolar disorder in Nigeria. I don’t know if that has changed now, but as little as it seems, it has a huge way of projecting how much corporate attention, is being given to mental health in Nigeria.

Still, in the face of little or no corporate mental health attention, a good number of initiatives are bridging the gap, by enlightening the society on mental health issues. In the long run, this would not only support the mentally ill but would also provide support for friends and family who are a reliable and strong source of encouragement for the mentally ill.

One source of positive wellbeing for me is, knowing that I have family and friends who are committed to my mental health progress. So even though my blog started in February 2014, by March, the following month, I was admitted into the hospital and advised to go on a bed rest to ensure the safe delivery of my son. Still, the three months bed rest did not affect my blog because my husband and my  mother and other family members  understood how precious it was to me, and asked my sister to help me post while I wrote. (Sometimes, I dictated to her, while she typed) This is why, I am a firm believer of the thoughts that say:

Collaborations are important and family and friends should be carried along in the mental health recovery process.

Support from friends and family are the strongest and most reliable source of encouragement for the mentally ill. Without it, Psychological counselling and Psychiatry medication will do little for the positive well-being of the mentally ill.

My name is precious, I was bipolar and I live a full life

Note: MANI is an acronym for Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative.
SMW is an acronym for Social Media Week.

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