On July 1, Kintsukuroi Foundation, an NGO founded by Blessing Douglas of the Class of 2016, visited Aliyu Musdafa College, Yola, to campaign against stigmatization of mental health and raise awareness for people with mental health issues.
The students were delighted to meet the Kintsukuroi team and they attended the day’s event, which was held inside the college’s hall.
AUN psychologist, Dr. Regina Mousa, spoke to the students about mental illness, giving a breakdown of what it means to be mentally ill and how to get help. “You can have any physiological illness, like cancer, and still function, but with mental illness, there is no way you can function, because it affects every area of your life: your thought patterns and physical condition,” she said. “It is the most debilitating illness.”
Kintsukuroi is a Japanese word that means “the piece is more beautiful for having been broken” and Ms. Douglas chose it because it reflected some of the things she has gone through. “I did not have the best of childhoods,” she said. “I have gone through depression and saw how it broke me. But I did not come out of it bitter, but better.”
She started the Kintsukuroi Foundation after observing and imagining the horror that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) went through due to Boko Haram. “There is no doubt that mental illness exists in this place,” she said. And Douglas wants to do something about it.
She thinks of Kintsukuroi as a platform where people, especially college students, can be trained by psychologists and counsellors from around the world. These trained college students can then go into their communities and apply their knowledge to solving mental health issues.
Kintsukuroi also adopts a mentoring approach, organizes vocational workshops, conferences, seminars, and fun fair, as tools to end mental illness.
Although there are no reliable statistics, Nigeria is believed to rank as one of the worst countries for people with mental issues. Douglas describes that as “pathetic”. She hopes Kintsukuroi will help to address mental health issues, not just in Yola but across Nigeria.
By Solomon Elusoji