Psychiatrist calls for establishment of Mental health literacy in schools  

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A Clinical Psychiatrist and a lecturer Dr Olanrewaju Ibigbami, has called for the establishment of mental health literacy in primary and secondary schools to solve mental challenges of young adolescents.

Ibigbami made the call on the sideline of a stakeholders’ dissemination meeting and mental health literacy training for school counsellors in Osun state.

The meeting was organised by “The Mehlit Project” in Osogbo on Wednesday.

Ibigbami, said there are ways students with mental health challenges can be spotted in schools stating that once a student is noticed of not doing well academically, “it could be a sign of mental health challenge.”

According to him, it is not only those mentally ill walking on the street that has mental health challenge.

He however listed some of the signs of mental health challenge in young people especially the students to include; not sleeping properly, not eating well, eating too much and getting unnecessarily afraid or unnecessarily sad.

Also, unusually happy, being hyper active, staying alone, stealing and having destructive behaviour in school.

He said through ‘The Mehlit Project’ school counsellors are trained on mental health literacy, in order to detect the mental health challenges their students exhibits and to stop it from getting to the level of crisis.

“The Mehlit project is a mental health literacy training programme for school counsellors in Osun State, supported by the Counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON) and the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH).

“We have been able to train over 100 school counsellors.
“We already have data from 81 of them who responded to the test we did and It showed that the training actually improved their counseling self efficacy.

“Also mental health literacy with regards to understanding what mental health problems are, and how to manage them among young people who are in secondary schools”, he said.

“We have also been able to work with Counseling Society of Nigeria, to develop a template for us to scale up this training so that more counsellors in the state and beyond Osun state can actually receive a similar training,” he said

Dr Olayinka Oderinde, a mental health practitioner and Special Adviser to Gov. Ademola Adeleke, on Special Needs, who chaired the programme, stated that the mental health literacy training commenced in September 2023.

Oderinde said the focus of the project was to train educated school counsellors on mental health and how they can be of help to young adolescents having mental health challenges.

She said the training has, however, equipped the participants (counsellors) to identify a child that has a mental health problem, what to do and where to refer a student where it is beyond their capacity.

She said though not all schools in the state have counsellors hence, steps are being taken to ensure that all the schools in the state have counsellors, that will be included in the mental health literacy programme

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