Mental Health Takes Center Stage at World Health Day Celebrations

On the 7th of April the world health day was celebrated as has been the tradition for over 50 years.

Being the first time in 16 years that a mental health issue has been the theme, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital- Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (LUTH-SURPIN), in collaboration with Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria, LUTH chapter (MDCAN-LUTH) and the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), seized this precious moment and organized an open discussion forum on the theme: ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’.

The event was held at the Old Great Hall of the College of Medicine University of Lagos (CMUL), Idi-Araba, Surulere, Lagos, at 12noon.

The audience included numerous media organizations, the religious, law enforcement agents, non-government organization such as So-Said, MindTrust, Youth Empowerment Foundation, the academic community from the university including the department of psychology and schools within the LUTH community, members of the health team including doctors, nurses, psychologists, medical social workers, occupational therapists, and members of the public. In total there were 153 registered persons that attended the event.

They got informed through various sources including SMS sent out prior to the event, the banners advertising the event, etc.

The discussant comprised of Dr. Raphael E. Ogbolu (Coordinator of LUTH-SURPIN, Consultant Psychiatrist LUTH, immediate past chairman MDCAN-LUTH) who stated ‘Why we are here’, Dr. Bamigboye B (MDCAN-LUTH Chairman) who invited all to the event, Professor JD Adeyemi (Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, CMUL, professor of psychiatry and president, APN) who emphasized the importance of paying attention to mental health, Mr. Tunji Disu (Assistant Commissioner of Police and Commander Rapid Response Squad (RRS) Lagos) who described the challenges that law enforcement agents face, and interestingly the issue of “suicide by police”, noting that the police has noticed an increase in unprovoked aggression from members of the public, Dr. Yewande Oshodi (Child Psychiatrist LUTH, and lecturer CMUL) who spoke about depression in children, Dr.Akindipe TA (Consultant Psychiatrist, Federal Neuropsychiatry Hospital, Yaba, Lagos) who spoke about the features of depression and helped the audience understand how to detect warning signs, Dr. Charles Umeh (Clinical Psychologist, LUTH and lecturer, CMUL) described the link between depression and suicide, Alhaji Wasiu (Chief Imam at the community mosque), represented the Islamic faith perspective, and Pastor Deji Animashaun represented the Christian faith perspective; each in a 5-minute talk to set the tone for the discussion.

Thereafter, the audience were engaged in a very lively discussion on the topic, with a lot of information shared to the extent that the event lasted more than two-hours and most were still willing to go on and on. It clearly provided an opportunity that many have longed for to be able to talk about depression and mental health issues. What best describes the essence and importance of the event was the opening statement by the Imam who said he decided to stay for the whole programme, which would stretch, unintentionally, into the Jumat service because he knows Allah will be pleased with him coming to learn and gather information he can use to help the many people who come to him for help. This received a loud ovation.

The LUTH-SURPIN helplines were once again announced and Dr. Ogbolu explained the "ONE 1 MORE DAY" campaign was explained and all present were enjoined to become ambassadors of mental health. The APN president, Prof. Adeyemi seized the opportunity to touch on the challenges to efficient mental health services, and the need for a mental health act to be passed by the national assembly because no workable and up-to-date law exists. It was agreed that all those present are stakeholders and that going forward all would work together to promote good mental health.

The event was anchored by Ms. Titi Tade (medical social worker, specialized in psychiatry) and Dr. Ose Olusile, while general coordination of the event was handled by Dr. Oladipo Adepoju (Consultant psychiatrist LUTH), Dr. Fadipe B (Consultant psychiatrist LUTH), Dr. Peters Ogunnubi (Lecturer CMUL and Psychiatrist), Dr. Fatiregun O. (Consultant psychiatrist LUTH). Among the audience were, Profs. Isiekwe (of child dental health), Akeredolu (former MDCAN-LUTH chairman), and Okubadejo (of neurology and the Stroke centre in LUTH), a deputy director of nursing in LUTH, psychiatric nurses led by Matron Soyombo-Adams, Dr. Erinfolami (Consultant psychiatrist LUTH and lecturer CMUL).

The agreements and resolutions reached were as follows:

  1. That the open forum discussion is a welcome development and provided all who attended an opportunity to interact, share their experiences and gain knowledge, and that more of such should be encouraged, as against the usual format of long lectures.
  2. That depression is a medical condition that exists among Nigerians and deserves all our attention
  3. That suicide, which is closely linked to depression, should be discouraged and that all efforts should be put in place to reduce the occurrence of suicide in our communities by encouraging others not to lose hope and by being more supportive
  4. That the clergy are very important as they see a lot of people with despair and with depression, and possibly suicidal thoughts, and so going forward there should be close collaboration between them and the mental health specialists.
  5. That the law enforcement agents are willing to work with the mental health specialists to ensure that those who need help will be directed to the appropriate quarters while maintaining their duty of upholding the law.
  6. That the slogan for all to achieve a reduction in suicide is “ONE 1 MORE DAYYY”, launched by LUTH-SURPIN
  7. That all present will serve as ambassadors to spread the campaign, and the LUTH-SURPIN helplines: 09080217555, 09034400009, 08111909909, 07013811143.


The event was highly informative and would not have been possible without the great support of the LUTH management led by the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Chris Bode, and the Provost, CMUL Prof. Afolabi Lesi. The tone has been set and the discussion will continue alongside the forging of successful relationships among the stakeholders. LUTH-SURPIN will be announcing the next round of events shortly.


R-L: Pastor Dimeji Animasahun, Dr. Charles Umeh (clinical psychologist, LUTH), ACP Tunji Disu (Commander RRS Lagos), Dr. Yewande Oshodi (consultant child psychiatrist, LUTH), Dr. Raphael Ogbolu (coordinator SURPIN/consultant psychiatrist, LUTH), Dr. Olubukola Omidiji (secretary MDCAN-LUTH/consultant radiologist LUTH), Prof. J.D Adeyemi (Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, CMUL, professor of psychiatry and president, APN), Prof. M.C. Isiekwe (professor & consultant in Child dental health, LUTH), Dr. Taiwo Akindipe (consultant psychiatrist, FNPH Yaba), & Alhaji Wasiu (Chief Imam, Community Mosque).


The Discussants on the stage.


The coordinator SURPIN, Dr. Raphael Ogbolu being interviewed after the event.


Mr. Tunji Disu (Assistant Commissioner of Police and Commander Rapid Response Squad (RRS) Lagos being interviewed by the press.