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Experts push for collaboration to tackle investment gaps in adolescent mental health

The coronavirus pandemic which ravaged economic activities in the entire globe has laid bare Nigeria’s failed investment in management of adolescent mental health issues over the years.

Statistics across the globe show that an adolescent mental health remains a neglected issue, often at the periphery of health and development agendas. as a recent study estimates that development assistance for Adolescent Health accounts only for a meagre 1.2 percent of all support between 2003 and 2016.

In Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria comprehensive sexual education is limited or restricted, and many young people are denied access to information to help protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections and to avoid situations that put them at risk of domestic or gender-based violence or sexual exploitation.

These issues have raised serious worries in the heart of both private and government sector players in Nigeria, who in a webinar session put together by Olashore International School (OISA) foundation joined voices together in brainstorming on ways around the increasing issues and challenges on the mental health of youths and young adults in Nigeria.

The session which is the 3rd in the series hosted medical and health professionals who spoke on the theme, ‘Mental Wellness: A Central Pillar of Adolescent Wellbeing.’

Coronavirus pandemic has severely disrupted education provision, undermining the development of adolescent social skills at a critical time when adolescents are unable to attend schools and gain other experiences, according to Executive director, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), World Health Organisation (WHO), Helga Fogstad.

“Suicide is one of the top five causes of adolescent death in some regions of the world according to World health organisation data. Now on top of all that our current generation and adolescence also had to navigate a global pandemic that is causing unprecedented harm to health and damaging the social and economic fabric of countries worldwide”, Fogstad said.

In her keynote address, ‘Perspective of World Health Organisation on adolescent mental wellness, global best practices’, Helga Fogstad observed that Mental health of adolescents and youth is crucially important, adding that every generation grapples with that difficult transition from childhood into adult life, dealing with family and friends, physical and emotion changes and managing multiple expectations and making crucial decisions about their future.

Abubakar Suleiman, managing director, Sterling Bank, who was represented by Temi Dalley, chief Human Resources Officer, lauded the board of Olashore International School for joining the global conversations to raise awareness about mental wellness in adolescence through this annual conference.

Dalley quoted a World Health Organisation data which indicated that as of 2019, Nigeria had over 7 million sufferers of depression. That’s roughly 3.9 percent of the nation’s population.

“Psychiatrics say about 15 percent of children adolescent have mental health disorders or conditions., nearly 50 percent of mental disorder starts to affect children by the age of 14”.

Other speakers at the webinar who gave both Nigeria and global perspectives to the challenges of Mental health at the conference include; Oluwayemi Ogun, managing director, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba Lagos; Tolulope Bella-Awusah, Head of Department, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University College Hospital, Ibadan.

Others are Tobi Odunsi, Psychiatrist and founder, Mental Status Quo and an old student of Olashore International School.

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