Global change maker and multiple award winner, Emmanuel Oluwasayomi Ahmadu, said he restored hope to 500 households and 50 secondary schools across three local government areas of Kwara State through his sensitisation and campaigns on depression.
His impact, according to him, got him a recommendation letter for National Youth Service Corps state and national awards and employment by Ilorin East Local Government Council, where he was serving.
Ahmadu told the News Agency of Nigeria in Ilorin on Thursday that one of the major problems he wanted to solve was tackling the global menace of depression.
He said depression had emerged as a predominant challenge in Nigeria, leading to young persons and adults taking their own lives and indulging in societal vices due to inability to cope with societal pressures.
According to him, these gave rise to hopelessness, cultism, examination malpractices, drug abuse, rape, robbery, trafficking, prostitution, school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, internet frauds, suicide and other societal misconducts.
He said: “Prevalent among adolescents and youths in the country from the study I made, I discovered that depression is a mental illness that occurs in different stages which ranges from the mild stage to the moderate stage and to the severe stage.
“In the mild stage of depression, the individual experiences some symptoms, this is the best time to seek help or professional counsel before it gets worse.
“I discovered that most people don’t speak up to get help from the appropriate professional quarters or they do not know where to go when they face mental distress.
“They prefer to endure the pain and die in silence, unless they are able to find trust in someone in whom they share their pain.
“So I decided to make it one of my personal community development projects to host ‘Mental Health Awareness And Sensitisation Programmes’ that could serve as a platform to bringing together survivors, relevant NGOs, agencies and mental health advocates.
“To provide free professional mental health services to the people at their door steps in schools, campuses, communities, mosques, churches and other social institutions in order to meet the psychological and mental needs of these people and give them a reason to be joyful.
“I was able to successfully execute the mental health awareness and sensitisation programmes before the COVID-19 pandemic started, thereby restoring hope to thousands of young people in 50 most populated selected secondary schools spread across three local government areas of Ilorin.”
He said in Ilorin East Local Government Secretariat in Oke-Oyi community, where he was currently serving, the projects restored hope to more than 120,000 young people and adults spread across the community and across the 50 selected secondary schools in the state capital.
In his efforts to also curb the spread of COVID-19 among young people, Ahmadu said he embarked on tackling the global menace of coronavirus in the state during the outbreak by sensitising over 500 households in the community on preventive practices and distributed nose masks to them.
He said: “The negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of the community dwellers where I am posted to serve drew my attention and made me thought of problem solving plan to alleviate their pain.
“I led my team to embark on an awareness and sensitisation campaign to back government’s efforts in curbing the spread of the ravaging coronavirus across the state.
“With increase in the number of cases, I thought it would be wise to create a sensitisation campaign to aid efforts of reaching out to my host community, who are vulnerable and lack awareness.
“The campaign was tagged: ‘Tackling the Global Menace of COVID-19 in Kwara State.’
“My team collaborated with the COVID-19 team in Kwara alongside the state government and other advocates to launch the distribution of COVID-19 preventive kit (face masks) to 500 households within the Oke-Oyi community and its suburbs.
“The sensitisation campaign was readily supported by NYSC, advocacy groups, NGOs, youth and community leaders which happened to be a success.
“All resources and funds needed were contributed by different organisations and individuals.
“Most of them were people who were readily committed to the cause of suicide prevention.”
On the impact of the projects on the communities, Ahmadu said it served as a ray of hope to youths, who were passing through mental health issues.
He described the project as a rescue project that served as a ray of hope to thousands of adolescents and youths, who were going through different categories of mental health issues ranging from depression, despair, suicidal thoughts and attempts, hopelessness and low self-esteem.
He said: “All these are caused by social and economic pressures, broken homes, failure, traumatic experiences, rape and abuse, among other factors.
“Having opened up on my life threatening experiences to the students and how I came out strong, they were touched by the story and with the evidences they saw.
“It was at this point that I realised young people face a lot of pressure daily, leading to stress, hopelessness, depression, failures, abuse, suicidal thought, fear and despair.
“These people usually do not like to talk about it or are scared to open up on their mental health conditions and as a result, the much attention required is not given to it.”
Ahmadu tasked relevant stakeholders to rise and team up with survivors of related mental health conditions to address the menace, reach out to schools at the elementary, middle and tertiary levels, religious organisations and social institutions with the goal of saving the vulnerable.
“The aim for doing this is to give ears to victims as well as to provide solutions to their problems through restoration of hope,” he said.
On his aspirations, Ahmadu said he wanted to be a hope in the mind of troubled adolescents and youths in Africa.
He said: “In recent times, millions of people have been thrown into hopelessness and depression in Nigeria, affecting both the rich and the poor, due to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“It has been predicted by World Health Organisation (WHO), that depression will rise in 2020 to become the second most prevailing health problem in the history of the world, leading to increased suicide rates, societal misconducts and mental health issues.
“Unless victims of mental health issues find someone who have gone through similar experience or worse situation who can understand their pain and help them to regain hope, they may never voice their pain.
“As a survivor of depression whose success story has gained global attention and reportage, I have served as a source of hope to millions of people globally, thereby contributing towards tackling depression and suicide menace.
“I have written a precise proposal ready for submission to identifying my story as a symbol of hope with telecommunication brands, who sees mental security of Nigerians as a priority both during and post COVID-19.
“I wish to contribute my wealth of experience by partnering as an ambassador on corporate social responsibility with telecommunication brands.
“To serve as a platform where people going through societal pressures, hopelessness and traumas leading to depression and suicidal thoughts can speak up to get help through professional support.
“I also seek partnerships with national, international brands and stakeholders to effectively drive the solutions to the grassroots and communities nationwide.
“For example, if there is a fire outbreak in Nigeria, people call 112 or 119. But when we are having mental insecurity or issue, whom do we call? There should be an emergency line to call on mental issues.”
Ahmadu said it was important for corps members to make themselves relevant to the society while still serving, through whatever problem solving ideas they have.
He said: “Corps members need to realise that the service year is a symbol of the future they have dreamed about.
“It should be taken as a stage to equip and develop themselves with needed skills, to solve societal problems in various industries that they eventually find themselves.”
NAN reports that Ahmadu is popularly known as Mr. Voiceover.
He is a voice-over artiste, a writer, a budding Nollywood actor, brand ambassador, and an SDG advocate and volunteer.
He is currently a 2019 Batch B, Stream II Corps member serving at the Ilorin East local Government Secretariat.
NAN recalls that Ahmadu was a victim of broken home from early age and was enrolled into 16 primary schools and attended 14 secondary schools.
He wrote his Ordinary Level examinations 17 times in five years and also wrote the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination five times before securing admission into the University of Benin to read Mass Communication.