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.
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!
Omotoke Paul – Lawal
“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.”