Mental Health Coordinator calls for social inclusion of persons with mental illness

By Aminu Ibrahim II Contributor
Health Mental Health Coordinator calls for social inclusion of persons with mental illness
MAR 1, 2024 LISTEN

As the world marks Zero Discrimination Day, the Upper West Regional Mental Health Coordinator, Mr Sylvester Basagnia has called for the social inclusion of people who have been diagnosed or identified with mental ill-health conditions.

He said social inclusion was very essential for the elimination of stigma and stereotypes against persons with mental illness.

"So talking about inclusion, it's the way to go; once people are brought on board, once they are accepted, then we'll not even be talking about stigmatization and discrimination.

"[This is] because, once everyone matters in the group, society or whatever that's being discussed, definitely this person wouldn't be stigmatized," Mr Basagnia told Info Radio in an interview.

He said stigmatization and discrimination mostly result in social isolation and cause an individual to feel less of a human being which comes with dire consequences such as denial of rights and sometimes, ideation of self-harm, including suicide.

Mr Basagnia, therefore, urged the public to shift away from stereotyping and accept everyone person despite their mental health status in all facets of social life.

He observed that ignorance and lack of information were some of the key drivers of stigma and discrimination against people with mental health challenges.

"The greatest cause of stigma is lack of knowledge, education, and awareness about mental illness or the subject from which discrimination is coming from," he observed.

He said it was important for the public to seek the right knowledge and information about mental health and mental illness so as to stay informed and out of erroneous information in public circulation.

Mr Basagnia, therefore, noted that the Zero Discrimination Day presented an opportunity for mental health advocates and all people to speak out in efforts to correct misconceptions and stem stigma against persons with mental illness.

He further called on the media to prioritize ethical and responsible journalism through the dissemination of factual information about mental health and the usage of dignifying mental health terms.

"Let's use positive disability language in our media messages out there... on TV, we should be able to use good symbols, good modeling to reflect people with mental illness rather than dirty, ratchet and haphazard-looking models," he urged.

He added that media practitioners should be ambassadors of mental health and people with mental illness by advocating for stronger social support services and institutions that ensure their rights.

The theme for the 2024 Zero Discrimination Day is "To protect everyone's health, protect everyone's rights."