By Franca Ofili
WHO Representative to Nigeria, Walter Kazadi, has stressed the importance of the media in advancing understanding of mental health and substance disorders.
He said this during a two-day training for journalists on mental health in Abuja on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training, attended by 40 journalists, is part of activities to commemorate the 2023 World Mental Health Day.
The day is annually celebrated on Oct. 10 to raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect mental health as a universal human right.
The global commemoration has “Mental Health is a Universal Human Right” as this year’s theme.
The WHO boss, therefore, said mental health is intrinsic and instrumental to the lives of people as it could influence how they think, feel and act.
Kazadi said journalists play vital role in educating the public on mental health.
He added that “there is need to build your capacity on mental health issues, given the importance of the work you do.”
Dr Tunde Ojo, the National Coordinator, National Mental Health, Ministry of Health, advised journalists to always seek mental health experts’ views and make proper research before writing on issues that affect mental health.
According to him, mental health is a state of complete physical, mental and social welfare and not merely the absence of disease.
Ojo said “even the use of language can cause unintentional harm and reinforce stigma. But when you get it right, you have the power to transform lives.”
He said stories about individuals with mental health challenges could increase awareness and reduce stigma around the condition.
He also encouraged journalists to be empathetic when interviewing someone with mental health and not to ask inciting questions and protect the source when possible.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Abiemwense Moru/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu