On Wednesday March 25 2015, at a packed Gede, attendees of the Foundation’s Mental Health Dialogue Programme were given a rare treat as two speakers gave exceptionally engaging presentations on Mental Health and Orphans and Vulnerable Children and the importance of addressing stigma in bringing mental health issues out of the shadows.

Renowned poet Bassey Ikpi gave a moving presentation on her own ‘mental health journey’ and talked about the importance (in all societies) of addressing the causes of stigma which result in so many people keeping their mental health conditions ‘in the shadows’, leading to a situation in which treatment pathways are too often shunned.

Reverend Sister Cecelia from the Catholic Action Committee Against AIDS (CACA) gave a powerful presentation about the mental health impact on those children who, as orphans, often find themselves vulnerable and marginalised. Reverend Sister Cecelia highlighted the excellent work of CACA in addressing many of these issues and advocated strongly for greater efforts to ensure that the plight of so many OVCs does not remain ‘in the shadows’.

Both presentations were followed by lively Q&A sessions.

 The session was also delighted and honoured to hear a message of support, delivered in person, by Gede’s Founder, Dr Jennifer Jamilah Douglas-Abubakar, who highlighted the importance of such sessions in terms of networking and raising key issues related to underserved and highly stigmatised health burdens. Dr Douglas-Abubakar also praised participants for devoting time and energy to raise awareness about mental health in particular and hoped that efforts eventually lead to a recognition, at all levels of society (including Government), of the impact of mental illness and the need for resources to be allocated to address them fully.

 The next meeting of the Dialogue Programme will be held on April 15 2015.