There was this joke that Africans don’t go for counselling, that if you are a counsellor in Nigeria, you would die of hunger. Well, those assertions are far from the truth. In the last few years, there has been exponential growth in the counselling industry as the number of suicide cases continues to escalate.

Depression is distinct from normal mood swings and short-term emotional responses to ordinary difficulties. Depression can be dangerous to one’s health, especially if it is persistent and has a moderate or severe intensity. It can make the individual who is affected suffer severely and perform poorly at the job, school, and in the family. Depression can lead to suicide in the worst-case scenario.

According to the World Health Organization, around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Every year, around 700,000 people die by suicide. Suicide is the fourth highest cause of death among those aged 15 to 29. Nigeria has the highest rate of depression in Africa, ranks 15th in the world in terms of suicide rates, and is named the world’s most stressed country (Bloomberg, 2015).

Such negative stats are what propelled Raphael Sani Enejo to organise a workshop “Depression, Stress and Suicide Awareness” under the umbrella of DO-Take Action, for 120 participants in a community of software engineers who experience stress and imposter syndrome on the daily basis.

31-year-old Raphael is a software engineer based in Lagos. He is passionate about driving social change and helping society in his own little way. Raphael, having suffered from depression as a programmer, understands the dangers of depression and stress, and decided to enlighten his community. The project falls under DO Good Health and Well-being program; a program that addresses key challenges in the health care sector by carrying out advocacy campaigns, health outreaches, capacity building workshops and community infrastructure projects that will ultimately improve the quality of health care and impact at least 10 million Nigerians over the next 10 years.

He carried out the project at Semicolon Labs main office at 312 Herbert Macaulay Way, Sabo, Yaba Lagos, and it entailed the following:

  • A group discussion on depression, stress and suicide, how to get help and how to treat those experiencing it with love and care.
  • A counselling session with a renowned mental health practitioner
  • An interactive Q/A session where the participants asked questions and were given informed answers
  • A comment and testimonies session where participants shared their experiences

In the course of the project, a minimum of 80 participants were sensitized to mental health issues (Depression, Stress, Suicide). 50 participants pledge to support and commit to advocating for mental health issues in the community. 19 participants pledged to advocate for mental health issues within their community. 10 GDCs were recruited from the participants to organize a depression, stress and suicide outreach program in their community.

Raphael has contributed to making his community saner. What contributions are you pioneering in your community? 

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