In 2019, mental health will come into a lot more focus in Nigeria, thanks to individuals and groups making efforts to describe how everyone can play a positive part.
Living in the social media age is not easy. Pressures of conformity, fear of missing out (FOMO), anxiety of not slaying or looking sweet and the weight of family expectations are telling on a lot of young people. It is not unsurprising that – perhaps until its dilution through somewhat light-hearted versions – “O jewa ke eng?” has turned out a useful soul-searcher on Twitter over the past week, providing an outlet for (mostly young) people to let out whatever has had them feeling less and insecure.
Everybody on your street – whether on the Island or Mainland – is probably bearing something they need to be relieved of. That is partly the message in Oga John, the short film by Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI), a non-profit creating awareness on mental health issues like depression, anxiety, insomnia and suicidal thoughts. MANI’s Twitter is forever seeking out individuals whose online and offline expressions seem to portray need for some inspiration, for kindness and laughter. In their short film’s ten minutes, they tell us how in our ordinary and also burdened lives, we can be branches of the tree doing angelic work for mental health.
In Nigeria, current economic indicators are a cause for concern. The rise in inflation impacts how much salaries and wages are worth and what they could buy in the market. Politicians are being loud with promises, including those striving hard to mask unfulfilled ones. Nigeria pledges apples so often but delivers lemons. Many are nearing exhaustion in their capacity to summon enzymes that catalyze lemonade.
From Oga John, we see that it is possible to keep doing something to stay the course. The title character and Alero are everyday people we usually value based on what we see of their physical conditions. What happens in reality is a reminder on the difference vigilance makes in acting on what could turn out to be a life-saving intuition. You may not be a shrink but there are low-hanging fruits for regular folk to work with as far as mental health awareness is concerned.
Find the film here and let the creators know what you think about it. And if your “O jewa ke eng?” answer needs to be heard in private, have the ease and courage to confide in someone, a mental health professional, or tweet at MANI.
Featured image: Oga John Short Film (YouTube) | Follow @inquizimedia on Facebook and Twitter
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