Art as a Tool to Raise Awareness for Mental Health




Written by Adenike Bamigbade

There is a story of Kenile, a 26 years old hairstylist who committed suicide after a disagreement with her boyfriend. The narration about Nigeria being a country where people are suffering and smiling has been changed to one where many people do not have enough internal gauge to handle life’s depressing moments. Just like Kenile, the numbers keep increasing every day, but unfortunately, there little or no help.

In a report by the World Health Organization, 1 in 5 adults are affected by mental health illness every year, and only about 20 percents are able to receive treatment. In Nigeria, the level of awareness of mental health issues is understandably poor, and the misconceptions have continued to flourish.

Moreover, it has been suggested that there is a relation between temperature rise and aggressive behavior. Increase in rates of criminality and aggression has been observed during the hot summer months, suggesting a link between aggressive behaviors and temperatures. So it is apparent that the cases of mental illness will keep increasing and can jeopardize all efforts in ensuring a progressive society and a better future. This is why it is crucial for young people to take active role in bridging the knowledge gap and ensuring we create a safe place in the midst of the chaos.

Last week, at least 60 young people in two different locations sat to deliberate active steps in creating enduring solutions, an event organized by the Nigerian Youth SDGs Network and IChange Foundation. One thing we all agreed is that there is a need for more advocacy. At the heart of enlightening citizens, expanding the impact and improving citizen engagement towards the delivery of the SDGs in Nigeria, significant avenues have been explored, but one that has been left on the sidelines is arts. Arts as we know it has a similar and arguably improved influence on citizens than other forms of knowledge.

Music speaks to the soul. A picture speaks louder than voice. We have ignored the power of music and arts in conveying our messages thus shaping culture and influencing society.

Art For SDGs Nigeria explores the vibrant talents and diversity of Nigeria’s youth across our geopolitical zones to interpret the SDGs in arts, expand our knowledge for the SDGs and deepen our hunger for impact irrespective of our social status, academic qualification, gender, location and/or profession.

Talented individuals like Dija have taken the bold steps with her new music titled Save Me where she painted with our lyrics the menace in our society which is affecting our mental wellbeing.

The question is what skill do you have and how are you using it to advocate for the SDGs?

Some photos at the event in Lagos and Abuja;


We appreciate all our partners that contributed to the success of the event.

Printivo HQ, Lagos

Denmark Embassy, Abuja