In the past 2 years+, MANI has led monthly campaigns for mental health issues, with a focus on one core issue per month, leading to varying increase in Mental health awareness and literacy levels of millions of Nigerians. And while we will yet still, strive to continue to provide basic and simplified information about mental health issues and continue our anti-stigma campaigns, we have decided to assume the next step in our growth – one that will modify our focus to include challenging and recommending better policies that will positively the mental health of Nigerians.
Over the rest of the year, we will be working with various local and international partners to highlight the gaps in policies and legislature for mental health in Nigeria and will be shedding light on some of the ignored but inherently important policy asks that shape the life of the average Nigerian. From reviews of the Tobacco control Act, to starting up discussions about the harmful nature of our Alcohol control laws and the effect of the above two on the rising burden of Non-Communicable diseases in Nigeria, to campaigns for a new mental health act, regulation of pesticides increasingly used for suicide as well as discriminatory laws like the one that punishes people for attempting suicide.
We will be launching a year-long campaign tagged the #300DaysOfAction Campaign, which will have you, our supporters, and hopefully, many others who understand the importance of Mental Health, to stand on their office of the citizen and take daily action for mental health. Beyond the online push, we have set out plans on the ground to, with your backing, engage with and put meaningful pressure on policymakers as well as work with grassroots organizations to generate a representative voice for our demand for #BetterMentalHealthInNigeria.
The #300DaysOfAction campaign will run from today, March 11th 2019, to December 31st 2019, and will help to collate our collective voices and actions to show our decision makers how seriously we have come to take mental health in Nigeria and why they need to match that energy. To put some of our issues into perspective, here’s where we currently stand: Firstly, A Mental health policy is a framework of the government highlighting its vision towards dealing with mental and neurological disorders. The Mental Health Act is the main piece of legislation that covers the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health disorder. These two, measure how countries rate mental health and in Nigeria, you would be right to assume we have no regard for mental health care as existing mental health policies and legislature in Nigeria are grossly outdated and mostly non-existent, just like the mental health system.
Nigeria is still operating under the lunacy act of 1958 – the first mental health legislation and one that was instituted by the colonizers and has been in existence for over 60 years. Basically, our mental health legislation is older than the country itself. To put this in context, the lunacy act, the only mental health law Nigeria’s passed is older than Nigeria’s first constitution as an independent country, which means that no Nigerian legislative or controlling parliament of whatever form has passed any law protecting the rights of persons living with mental illness. This, to put it lightly, is shameful and disgraceful, because this neglect of the importance of improving legislature for mental health in Nigeria isn’t down to the lack of effort from civil society and concerned groups but down to the lack of seriousness by past and present government to see through the enactment of this law even after signing on to and ratifying international framework conventions for human rights. The lunacy act in all ramifications, falls short of the international requirement for an appropriate legislature on mental health, which requires recognition of the following rights: Equality, non-discrimination, right to privacy, individual autonomy, physical integrity, right to information and participation and freedom of religion, assembly and movement.
With very sparse human resource capacity and a lack of national integration of mental health care into primary health care as well as non-existent anti-stigma campaigns, it’s safe to say that the amount of interest the Nigerian leadership have for mental health is inversely proportional to the damage it has wrecked through out the years and that should bother us. More than just a bother, it should incite us to take actionable steps to put pressure on the government to do more for mental health in Nigeria and we hope that you can commit to joining us for this unprecedented push. In the coming months we are hoping to recruit over 100,000 participants, who will join us to push for the implementation of some of these neglected policies as mentioned above.
We need your help to do that and you can join us by clicking on this link to lend your voice to our cause – bit.ly/300DOA
We will create custom picture quotes that you can share, and every night we will share the expected action that you would need to take the next day in support of the campaign.
As the campaign starts today, the expected action for today is as in the picture below, and we hope that you can participate, take a picture and tag us on @MentallyAwareNG on all social media platforms, as well as use the #300DaysOfAction hashtag.
Thank you for reading through and for your anticipated involvement.
Welcome to Day 1 of our #300DaysOfAction Campaign!!!