The founder of Mental Health Alive Project, Mr. Samuel Ikwuje has given reasons why he embarked on the project.
Ikwuje who describes himself as a “creative engineer” stated that the project is a practical intervention geared towards overturning the status quo of mental health decline in the country.
Apart from being a writer and a speaker with over a decade experience, Ikwuje who hails from Benue State has exposure in sound design, music composition and entertainment consultancy.
He averred that overcoming cyber bullying, depression and suicidal ideation inspired a re-imagination of the possibility of a world of sanity, balance and peace for all.
A statement issued in Lagos and made available to Maritime Bits said the three core pillars of stigma reduction, awareness expansion and gainful employment sum up the core aims and objectives of the mental health alive project which is structure in three phases.
According to the statement, in the process of outgrowing mental difficulty, Ikwuje founded and developed the project as a vision geared towards overturning the status quo of mental health decline in Nigeria.
He explained that the project at phase one houses a mental health advocacy film which leverages the power of the media to reshape public attitude and perception on mental health in manner that inspires introspection for change.
Continuing, he said: “Phase II is a psycho-educational outreach/street film show which conveys relevant and timely information encapsulated in the advocacy film in various local government areas beginning with the 20 Local Government Areas in Lagos state. At phase III, the project extends into a Mental Health Alive International Conference 2022 aimed at engaging and reimagining a common vision for global stakeholders in a bid to expand awareness and heighten the priorities on mental health as the foundation for a motivating and productive life.”
According to him, mental health and staying motivated top the list of man’s greatest needs. Whatever affects the way we think about ourselves relate with others and interact with the world around us form the basis of our existence. This existence is being threatened by mental illnesses which are gradually ravaging the earth. The dire nature of this societal concern demands an immediate deployment of every possible intellectual and material resource to keep the hope of a better future alive.
Giving an insight into how it has operated since it started, he revealed that the project’s proposal was duly tendered at the Lagos State Commissioner for Health office on the 30th of June 2022 and was later received at the office of the Permanent Secretary on the 1st of July, 2022.
“So far we have had several board room sessions, virtual meetings and dialogues via e-mail with various organizations, stakeholders and interest groups, presenting the project as an opportunity to build brand recognition and awareness and more importantly fulfill organizational mandate to host communities. On the 5th of August 2022, we had our first official boardroom meeting with the Special Project and Mental Health Unit of Lagos State Ministry of Health. The Mental Health Alive team was commended for the efficacy and timeliness of the proposed strategy and was further mandated to revise the advocacy film’s screenplay to meet a given standards. As directed, we introduced new set of prevalent mental disorders into the storytelling; postpartum psychosis, persistent depressive disorder and bipolar in a bid to project a more inclusive and balanced view. The educational material bring to the center of awareness and presents cyber bullying, altruism, stigma and discrimination against mental illnesses, emotional ill-treatment and dehumanization to the hearts of global audience in a manner that inspires introspection for change”, he added.
The initiator of the project stated that having successfully restructured the film’s screenplay as directed by the Special Project and Mental Health Unit, we are currently developing a new web television series titled “Strained” a documentary/drama pilot series which introduces and extends into the featured “Dying to Live” mental health advocacy film.
He explained that “Strained” brings diverse relatable characters into focus, screen-playing how their daily activities and decisions affect their overall mental health.
He expressed his readiness to collaborate with concerned individuals, venture capitalists, stakeholders and other interest groups in the attainment of set goals and objectives.