ABOUT 50 millions Nigerians are suffering from at least one form of mental illness or the other which has prevented them from earning income, supporting themselves and their families financially.
The need to tackle rising mental illness in the country has prompted Nigerian businessman and philanthropist, Olufemi Fowora to establish a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) in the memory of his late father, Otunba Emmanuel Olufemi Fowora. The NGO will raise N500 million to promote mental health and tackle mental illnesses in the country.
According to Fowora, the foundation will provide N500 million towards combating the scourge of mental illness in Nigerian communities.
Recounting his battle with mental illness, Fowora said, “People erroneously assume that because you are well-to-do, you cannot be depressed. My reality was very different and for over two years, I felt the full wrath of depression. It was impossible to socialise, I didn’t earn any income throughout the period and I was plagued with unspeakable dark thoughts.
“One in four Nigerians – about 50 million people in total – is suffering from at least one form of mental illness and I have found that it is very difficult to get the requisite help. At present, there are only eight federal neuropsychiatric hospitals in the country, and while some non-profit organisations are doing their best to provide help to affected persons, there is still a huge gap to be filled.”
While Fowora hopes that in the near future the government will commit more resources to ensure Nigerians are afforded the much-needed access to care, he praised the effort of kind citizens who have set up laudable initiatives and structures to provide support to those battling with mental illness.
He went further to call upon other well-meaning individuals and organisations to contribute towards making the Nigerian society safer and healthier for all. “To kick start this vision, I have committed N50 million in my personal capacity and I look forward to celebrating the impact of our collective effort across Nigerian communities,” Fowora concluded.