Mental Health: Foundation reiterates commitment to awareness, development

Mental Health: Foundation reiterates commitment to awareness, development
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Members of the Living Vines Mental Health Foundation at its official luncheon in Lagos
Members of the Living Vines Mental Health Foundation at its official luncheon in Lagos

By Lilian U. Okoro
The Living Vines Mental Health Foundation, an NGO, has reiterated commitment to providing holistic mental health and substance use prevention services aimed at promoting mental health awareness and development in Nigeria.

The Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation, Ms Olakunbi Oyedele, made this known at the official luncheon of Living Vines Mental Health Foundation on Thursday in Lagos.

Oyedele, also a Therapist, said the Foundation, which started over a year ago, is a faith-based consulting, counseling and training agency that serves as a beacon of support for individuals and communities facing mental health challenges.

According to her, the core objective is to advocate, empower, train and education people on mental health, thereby help to destigmatise mental health in Nigeria.

Oyedele, who called for collaboration of other organisations, identified partners of the foundation to include schools, hospitals, governments, universities, communities and religious organisations, through which it plans to enhance mental health development.

“Living Vines Mental Health Foundation is deeply invested in advocating for mental health awareness, empowering individuals and educating Nigerian society about the critical importance of mental well-being through various awareness and training initiatives.

“Through our dedication to training, prevention and advocacy services, we strive to catalyze meaningful changes in the mental health and addiction field in Nigeria.

“We believe that by equipping individuals and communities with the necessary resources and knowledge, we can foster a healthier and more supportive environment for all,” Oyedele said.

Speaking, Ms Tolulope Alabi, Board Member, Living Vines Mental Health Foundation, advised that people should learn to seek help and share experiences when faced with challenges to avert suicide tendencies.

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Alabi said that there was need for people to associate with others either in churches, community meetings, social gatherings or anywhere they could meet and share experiences.

She explained that sharing experiences opens people’s eyes to realities and enables them to know that some certain things actually existed, thereby creating avenue for coping mechanisms.

According to her, the foundation believes that one way it can create hope is by bringing people to share their stories for others to learn from.

“People should be encouraged to meet others and talk to them about their experiences, especially those of the same age bracket or those that are older who can relate with them on some of the things they have passed through in life.

“A lot of people are going through depression or drug addiction, which those living around them might not even be aware.

“So, experience sharing is a sure way of creating awareness so that people will get to know that things actually existed.

“Just as one of the people that shared their experiences today said he became a drug addict in JSS1 class; some parents might not have imagined that a child could have access to this kind of thing at that stage.

“So, as that person shared his experience, it created awareness and opened parents/people’s eyes to know what to actually look out for,” Alabi said.


Mr John Idem, a Drug Addict Survival, said there was need for the public, particularly parents to monitor and recognise when a child might be struggling with mental health issues by listening more, empathising and seeking help, where needs be.

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Idem, also an Outreach Manager of the Foundation, urged parents not to give up on their children, particularly when they notice that the child got involved with drugs.

Idem, who shared his experience of drug addiction, said he became a drug addict at JSSI class in secondary, through to his university days until he became a father to three children.

According to him, his wife and three children left him because of the act, which did not make him to stop because he was addicted to drugs  and could not stay without it.

“While I started taking drug very early, it allowed me grow to a very strong drug user.

“As I was growing in the usage of drugs, there was something I realised.

“That, for each drug centre we go to take this drugs there were so many small children in the centre, who have parents, but were not available to get reconciliation with their own parents.

“I also discovered that there were young people that needed help, but that didn’t stop me, I kept on taking these drugs until I found my recovery point and God took me back.

“My advice starts with the parents; don’t give up on your children. The truth is that you might not know that your children are entangled in drugs.

“And when you notice any slight instance that they are into it; don’t give up on them, don’t stop, keep following through until they stop and get recovery,” Idem said.

Idem advised that people should learn to love one another unconditionally, saying that in the drug and cultic world, there exists unconditional love.

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He explained that one of the things that kept him going to drug bongs was the kind of love and care he receives there, saying that people were not criticised for the wrong they did.

“What drove some of us into drugs were some certain vices; some of us have inferiority complex, some didn’t have guardians, some didn’t have perseverance, some smoked because of one form of abuse; we saw life as it comes, it goes.

“But what kept some of us coming was because in that place, we got free love; we got liberty to relate with one another without cautions, we were not being criticised for what we do or say when we are together.

“And this is one thing people really need to watch; we need to love unconditionally because these people who take drugs love unconditionally.

“They are ready to share whatever they have, while in the normal world, people don’t share what they have; they hold on to it.

“So, I must say that was a driving force; the fact that I saw love there and I kept on coming,” Idem said.

On her part, Ms Patience Odigie, the Intake Specialist, Living Vines Mental Health Foundation, said that some of the drug addiction traits actually start from primary schools.

Odigie said the Foundation designed a “Catch Them Young” programme, through which they move across primary and secondary schools sensitising them on the effects of drug/substance abuse and addiction. (NAN)

Edited by Vivian Ihechu

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