Youth and Mental Health

By Adesoye Kuye



Mental health is quite different from physical health. It can’t be covered up with bandages or fixed with surgery. There are ranges of mental health conditions that affect the perception, thought process and behavior of those who are diagnosed with them.

For young people growing into adulthood, social interaction, relationships and ‘fitting in’ are important and poor mental health conditions can certainly hinder their development. This is why this year, it is vital that the United Nations is raising awareness of this for International Youth Day 2014.

Cultivating the mental health of youth is very key to a peaceful society as failure to properly help youth with their mental health issues can be deadly. Globally, there have been an increase in horrifying suicides and rampart killings among youth.  A recent example of this case is the mass killing in California by Elliot Rodgers, the son of the assistant director of the Hunger Games. He obviously had mental issues concerning his social anxiety and vanity. Unfortunately, nobody properly helped him to overcome these problems. They all came to a head when he made a chilling video, stating his ‘hatred’ for the female race and followed it up with the murder of seven students leaving 13 wounded before killing himself.


Bullying, social exclusion and humiliation are a few factors that could lead to the birth of a violent person or unhinged criminal as they get older. It is safe to assume some murderers and criminals have suffered some sort of damage to their mental health that has caused them to go down that unfortunate route.

Youth with mental health disability can still lead a productive life. For instance, there was an Aspergic person in my school who struggled to adjust to boarding school. Due to the friendly atmosphere of the boarding house and the help that he received in integrating, he ended up becoming one of the most well liked and cleverest people in the school and secured a place in Oxford University.  What I am trying to say here is that these people might be impaired in certain ways but in other ways, they have massive advantages.


Efforts are needed to overcome this stigma to ensure that young people with mental health conditions can lead full and healthy lives free of isolation and unnecessary shame, and that they openly seek the services and support they need. I think that this is a good theme for the United Nations International Youth Day because mental health conditions have begun to rise in terms of frequency and in our society, we seem to fear what we don’t know. By raising awareness for these mental health issues, we can learn to be more sympathetic towards those affected by them. It also ensures that the youth is treated the right way to, perhaps, reduce the amount of crime born from negativity of the metal conditions and create a better future for our youth.

Priceless not Worthless!

Volunteers are not paid because they are priceless, not worthless!
It could be hard finding time to volunteer, especially when the time committed does not attract any form of financial remuneration. Amazingly, some youth still dedicates part of their free time to work without financial pay. This summer, LEAP Africa engaged summer interns to assist with some of the projects currently running at LEAP and the experience working with the interns has been amazing. However, it has been mutually beneficial. The interns has the following to say….

 Mofope Olarinmoye

Volunteering is simply an act of charity. While a person volunteers, they sacrifice either their time or expertise for a cause and, more often than not, are not paid for doing so. Many people find it challenging to volunteer especially if they can think of other fun activities to do. In my case, a few friends laughed at me when they heard that I was volunteering at LEAP without getting paid. In their minds, one question stood out: “What’s the use?”
Initially, I might have shared the same mindset as my friends; however, my stay at LEAP gave answers to that question. I realized that volunteering makesme happy and proud that someone or some people will indirectly have their lives transformed positively as a result of the tasks I carry out. Secondly, I discovered that volunteering prevents me from having a completely Capitalist paradigm, which would make me think that I must be paid for every thing I do. Volunteering is an act of kindness as well as endurance. In my situation, it is an extreme case of endurance since I have to wake up at 5 am everyday in order to arrive at work on time.
Working at LEAP has made me consider how I can make a change in Nigeria and has helped me realize that my age or status would not be a hindrance while doing so. In addition, my knowledge and awareness have expanded substantially and I now understand the importance of things like networking and communication. Overall, thanks to the people that I have been fortunate to meet with, my experience at LEAP has been wonderful!

Oyin Ogunlowo
I have a problem. I don’t like to ask for money when I have provided no good or service. I’m the kind of person who much prefers being paid for actually doing or providing something. Of course that means when I’m strapped for cash, I don’t feel comfortable asking to borrow money, I’d much rather find a reason to make one pay me, e.g. ” Can I borrow a calculator?” “Sure. For 50 naira” Its such a common phrase from me. I once bought lunch using a lot of 50 naira notes from a lot of people. So when I needed something interesting to do for most of my summer break, I didn’t even fathom the idea that I would not get paid.
Slightly more than a month volunteering at LEAP Africa, I’ve realized that I’m being paid in something much more valuable than money. It sounds like a cliche but I’ve earned knowledge, work experience, a better understanding of formal communication and so much more.
It’s given me a chance to hone skills that were becoming rusty due to disuse: design skills, organizational skills, and discovering and navigating new computer software. I’ve met other teenagers, albeit slightly older than me, that have the same idea and are trying to help in one way or the other. I started my time here at LEAP slightly disgruntled I wouldn’t make any money this summer, but in the time since, I’ve learnt so much and improved in so many areas that if I could go back in time, I would slap myself and tell myself that money just pales in comparison to some things. The greatest thing about that is LEAP has done with me, exactly what it sets out to do with all its programmes: impacted the life of a young person and helped her think about the bigger picture.
Sometimes, one just needs to volunteer and sacrifice something to realize things about themselves they otherwise wouldn’t….And its necessary to help where you can to make Nigeria a better place, even if one can’t see immediate results.

Omotoke Paul – Lawal

One of the key lessons of life is this: time is precious. Giving up your time can be very difficult, and should be done wisely. But to volunteer is to give up your time to a cause that is important to you.
I could not have chosen a better organisation than LEAP to dedicate some time to this summer. I came into LEAP impressed by its goals and mission, and my time there simply amplified my excitement as I got first-hand experience of the positive impact the organisation is having on lives, both on an individual and societal level.
Volunteering at LEAP has been a very rewarding experience for me, and I would highly encourage anyone interested in LEAP’s work to volunteer; getting involved gives a refined understanding of the organisation’s goals, and allows you to dedicate time and ideas to such a good cause.

Dare Balogun
“When it comes to volunteering, I think that people forget the benefits that come with it and keep thinking about their own personal goals. However, volunteering is not only is a great way to develop skills and grow personally, but it also gives you a chance to make a difference in your community and make a real and lasting impact on the world. Starting at internship at LEAP Africa has allowed me not only to learn new skills and improve my existing skills but also let me see the other side of how NGOs operate, giving me the experience I need so that when I graduate and start my own initiative, I would have a solid idea not only of my goal, but also my plan to achieve that goal.”

Tomi Salako
“Volunteering is important to me because it promotes personal growth and self esteem. It helps me work on certain skills I will need but it makes me feel satisfied as I get the sense that I have given back to my community.
Although I have just been at LEAP Africa for a couple of days, volunteering here has improved my creative writing skills. While volunteering at LEAP, I had the opportunity to write on two topics for their blog; Staying Fit and Building Relationships. This has really motivated me and pushed me to start my own blog “
Volunteering might be tasking, but it definitely is rewarding as evident from our five summer interns.
I leave you with this quote from Nelson Mandela….

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