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|Well Done Betty Irabor By Tony Ademiluyi by tonyluyi1985: 7:40am On Apr 21, 2022
I have written for the umpteenth time that if we are to win the war against the stigmatization of the mentally challenged in Africa, then celebrities with their potent star power need to be co-opted into the fight as allies. It makes the battle more effective if some of these celebrities themselves are battling the challenge and choose to openly acknowledge their struggles. It will only make them look human in the face of their teeming fans who will realize that beneath the veneer of fortune and fame is a vulnerable and frail human being in need of emotional support and love.
If wealth and fame were all there was to life, how come many ‘successful’ people by its definition ended up committing suicide? From Ernest Hemingway to Marilyn Monroe – the list is endless.
I was glad that popular journalist and Publisher of Genevieve Magazine, Betty Irabor came out to the world and openly told her fans and the public of her struggles with mental health. Who could have imagined that such a successful woman – former journalist with Concord Newspapers, held her own in corporate communications in various blue-chip companies and her widely read magazine was an African clone of Oprah Winfrey’s O, her husband, Soni Irabor could be aptly described as the Larry King of Nigeria when he hosted his popular Soni Irabor Live show, could have secret battles with depression which made her seek therapy from even as far as the United Arab Emirates? Such is life as they say!
I am happy because when it happens to the hoi polloi, it is usually attributed to demonic attacks and they end up getting chained and brutally beaten. With Betty Irabor’s story, the conversation around it will hopefully change and they will seek treatment from competent doctors and mental health care workers.
Popular FMCG Brand Lipton is also worthy of commendation as they dedicated the women’s month – March to a campaign for the destigmatization of mental illness. It was captioned ‘#LiptonBreakTheBias.
In partnership with GoSlo, they hosted Betty Irabor to an event in Wheatbaker Hotel which was titled ‘Ultimate Conversation with Betty Irabor.’
I am glad that not only Betty Irabor is championing the awareness of this ailment, two big brands are also behind her and are doing their best to tell the world that mental illness is really no big deal and its like any other ailment like diabetes, high blood pressure or hypertension that can be well managed.
While I am happy that this conversation will greatly change the narrative, I want it to be more effective as only a grassroots campaign on the awareness of mental health will be really worth the struggle. The common man or the man on the street will definitely not be at Wheatbakers Hotel or any high brow hotel for that matter where there are endless conferences, seminars and workshops that do little or nothing to ameliorate his plight. The harsh economic policies have pushed him to the wall and he is contending with not only putting food on the table for himself and his family but also purchasing his medications. One way celebrities can help is if they can galvanize international donor agencies with an interest in health to give free medications to the mentally challenged in Africa starting from Nigeria just as they did with HIV drugs in the ‘Giant of Africa’ that have been free since 2006. This way, the impoverished mentally challenged Nigerian’s life will be directly impacted as it will save a huge chunk of his lean finances and prevent any occurrence of a relapse which will make him function effectively in the society.
Celebrities like Betty Irabor should go beyond the regular jaw jaw to using their huge brands and contacts built and cultivates over the years to positively influencing public policy so that the Man on the Clapham Omnibus can have a better deal when it comes to mental health as they really don’t understand all the Twitter hashtags and sloganeering since they are financially, emotionally and psychologically battered by anti-people policies to care about some conference that has no direct impact in their lives.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step goes the ancient Chinese cliché and we are glad that the likes of Betty Irabor have come out of the closet to tell the world their mental health stories. We only hope that more celebrities with the ailment can be open about it so that together we will win this noble battle.
Well done Betty Irabor!
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