Vice President Yemi Osibanjo has pledged to support awareness campaign on depression as a mental illness. He spoke through his representative and spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, at City Hall, Lagos at the public presentation of a book, Dust to Dew, written by Mrs. Betty Irabor. “The vice president has promised to support and partner with Betty Irabor to create more awareness on depression as a mental illness”, Akande said after tendering an apology from his boss, for his unavoidable absence. According to him, Osinbajo’s desire is to “lead a reform in our health system that will address the weaknesses and stigma that affect mental health and build structures needed to achieve the goal.” He described the book as “a turning point for us as a nation to stop the stigmatisation of mentally-ill patients”. Irabor noted that “Nigerians associate depression with madness and spiritual oppression. Nigerian psychologists and therapists are clueless about clinical depression, especially in the area of modern treatments.” The author, who said there were over 33 million, depressed Nigerians, advised that individuals should open up when things are not going okay. To pretend that everything is okay when it is not is wrong,” she added. As expert, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka,, who gave a medical perspective of clinical depression, described it as “an overwhelming feeling of pointlessness”, noting that everyone’s manifestation of depression differs. According to him, clinical depression is a battle one is never completely free from, because “it is not completely curable but it can be managed.” Soyinka advised that people should desist from thinking that they understand clinical depression because they feel sad once in a while. “It is a deception that isn’t helpful to depressed patients, psychologists and therapists,” he said. Dust to Dew is a memoir of Irabor’s many years of battling with depression and the victory afterwards. It is her personal account of dealing with depression.

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