IMC experts call for mental health inclusivity amidst new COVID-19 variant

By Oghale Mafuru

The impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic has been very devastating, to say the least, affecting every facet of the human life.

Adapting to the new restrictions on social interaction has had a huge toll on the mental wellness of many especially those who lost loved ones to the pandemic.

It is against this backdrop that practitioners in the Integrated Marketing Communications industry are calling for mental health inclusivity in the industry to ensure that they continue to deliver quality and top-notch solutions.

President of the Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), Femi Adelusi, while pledging commitment to support all efforts geared towards the mental healthcare of practitioners, noted that in 2022, the call for agencies to ensure that workplaces provide all requisite tools and facilities that will guarantee the mental healthcare of employees will be amplified.

According to the President, the association will from next year focus on Mental Health Management with specific attention on ensuring that the workplace creates a mentally friendly environment with access to healthcare and insurance.

He said: “As a leading professional association, MIPAN will be supporting existing initiatives that continue to build awareness around mental health for improved inclusiveness in Nigeria from 2022, with the objective to encourage inclusiveness, increase awareness, support technical initiatives/ tools that address the issues, provide resources and platforms that reduce the native impacts and reduce the social stigma associated with people facing this challenge.”

According to him, the association will be partnering with renowned mental health experts in 2022 to drive the awareness on mental healthcare in the industry.

On his part, President of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Steve Babaeko, while affirming the need for more stakeholders’ engagement in the area of mental healthcare, asserted that the pandemic had a huge toll on the mental state of everyone who was constrained in a bid to control the spread of the virus.

According to Mr. Babaeko, mental health challenge became a serious issue as everyone was adversely affected by the pandemic. He said that his agency partnered with ‘Mentally Aware Nigeria’ to provide expert services to members and staff.

“We are starting from a holistic national point of view. We created campaigns that will bring more attention for people to care more about their mental health, and went one step further by enlisting ‘Mentally Aware Nigeria’ and other professionals for our members and people who work for us to consult in the most professional and confidential situation,” he said.

Reaffirming the need for Mental Health Management in the industry, Jude Odia, a renowned advertising expert, urged agencies to start having experts to address mental concerns that may affect the productivity of employees, noting that the restrictions and challenges occasioned by the pandemic have had some mental impact on practitioners.

The latest UNICEF report conducted this year indicated that more than one in seven adolescents aged 10–19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental health problem globally.

The report added that diagnosed mental health challenges, including ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, depression, eating disorders, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia, can significantly affect people’s health, education, life outcomes, and earning capacity.

Meanwhile, statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) had indicated that one in every four Nigerians, that is, an average of 50 million people, is suffering from a mental illness.


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