A few nights back I was on the phone with a young friend from Sierra Leone; she is around the age of 18 to 19 and has been a fan since my days of being a broadcaster and now my personal person. Unlike our usual short conversations of how’s school and life? That night, she was clearly depressed. She told me a whole lot of things that she said she can’t tell any of her parent, family members, or her friends. Before saying goodnight, she said Aunty Yinka, it feels so good that I would actually talk to you without you judging me and thinking that I am a “bad girl”.
Since I got off the phone with her there have been a whole lot of questions going through my mind, like;-
- How many parents do provide a conducive atmosphere for their child, children, or ward to actually walk up and talk to them?
- How many grown-ups could actually listen to these young people, especially teens, without judging them or trying to lower their self worth?
- Is there any organization, NGO, or someone that can offer free counseling for young people especially teens?
If there is/ are any, where una dey? How open are you to these young people and how confidential will whatever they have to say be treated? Except you are among the lucky few, you would have at some point during your life as a teenager been in a depressed state for one reason or the other.
According to a general school of thought, Depression can be defined as a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and despondence, i.e. a state where the individual feels low of him or she with little to no self-worth in Africa the rate of depression especially among teens is on a daily increase and the question on older people’s minds is “how can kid with little or no responsibility be depressed?”
Since my last post about a young friend who called in a depressed state, I have been able to speak with more of these sets of young people and learned that their depression could be caused by a whole lot of things –from family or social relationship to health and even life style.
Let’s take a case study of a girl from a very rich family with everything she could possible want (plus parent that love her) but suffering from a brain disease, say epilepsy, that throws in a fit most times in school or social gathering, mostly around her mates, thus resulting to friends shunning her. Or a young boy from a poor home who goes to school most time without lunch or who’s friends laughs at him in school because he’s always called out of class because his parent cannot afford to pay his fees on time or even a girl who can’t keep up with the latest fashion or technological trend also because her parent cannot afford them.
“It is not his fault his school free has not been paid on time or his hardly take lunch to school” or “it is just a mental condition she should feel depressed about that; Friends that love you and truly understand will stick around” or why will she worry about the latest fashion or technological trends when she should be concentrating in school and building a better future to get the entire fancy thing she desire”.
To most parent /adult these things may seem petty but we fail to realize that these young people are yet to have strength and courage to bear with situations we call “trivial” As a parent ward or adult have you ever tried to wonder what causes the sudden change of mood of these set of young people around you? How often do you sit to talk to young people around you to genuinely know what is really on their mind? As talking to them, I have figured, is one way that will really help in the reduction of teen depression
I intend to address these issues and bringing them to light. Thus helping to raise the awareness to teen depression, its causes, and ways it could be addressed via social media. Especially on a blog I recently started. Yinkaolucollier.wordpress.com. but I will need your help. I will be creating focus groups on Facebook and WhatsApp where the topic will be discussed on how to tackle the issues of teen depression and where inputs will be made from knowledge or experiences. Inputs on these groups will be used to help with my post on the blog and other social media outlets/sites. If you are interested in helping me with these sets of young people, please send me a direct message with necessary details.
Thanks and God bless
Yinka Olu Collier