… Seeks To Curb Mental Health Stigma 

General Manager of the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA), Mrs. Adenike Oyetunde-Lawal, on Wednesday, welcomed a delegation from the Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) led by its Executive Director, Mr. Abiodun Oguntola during a courtesy visit to the Agency at Alausa, Ikeja.

Addressing the delegation, Oyetunde-Lawal reiterated the agency’s unwavering commitment to prioritising the well-being of individuals with disabilities and expressed eagerness to collaborate with an organisation dedicated to combating mental health stigma in the state.

“We are eager to collaborate with your organisation and witness firsthand how your advocacy efforts in schools unfold. Addressing bullying, particularly among children with disabilities in our schools, is paramount. Therefore, your organisation’s focus on raising awareness among them is commendable”, she remarked.

Highlighting the agency’s open-door policy, she emphasised its readiness to partner with relevant stakeholders while underscoring its dedication to inclusivity.

“I appreciate your insights and support in promoting awareness of mental health among people with disabilities. Your counselling services and advocacy initiatives will significantly contribute to addressing this pressing issue”, she added.

The Executive Director and leader of the visiting delegation, Mr. Abiodun Oguntola outlined the role of MANI as Nigeria’s largest youth-run mental health organisation, offering counselling services and organising training programmes for schools, communities, and workplaces.

His words, “We are here today to pledge our support to LASODA in raising awareness about mental health within the disability community. Collaboration is key in addressing the diverse needs of persons with disabilities, and integrating mental health education is essential to advocating for their well-being”.

He further emphasised MANI’s strategy of early intervention in schools, aiming to educate students across all educational levels and engage their parents, teachers, and communities in fostering a supportive environment for mental health discussions.

According to him, the partnership between LASODA and MANI signifies a concerted effort to promote mental health awareness and combat stigma, ultimately creating an inclusive society where individuals feel empowered to seek help for their mental well-being without fear of discrimination.

As Nigeria’s largest youth-run and youth-focused mental health organisation, MANI champions the fight against mental health-related stigma and creates an environment that makes it possible for people to seek care for their mental health without fear of discrimination.

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