©AfreePress-(Lomé October 21, 2023)- Compassion International Togo celebrated, on Saturday, October 21, 2023, World Mental Health Day.
The event took place at Maison des Jeunes d’Amadahomé in Lomé and was coupled with the launch of the intervention on youth mental health in Togo. This project aims to combat depression among young people, the use of drugs and psychoactive products, and will be carried out in collaboration with several NGOs committed to children’s rights.
“Youth is a period of vulnerability to mental health disorders due to its high prevalence of drug and narcotic use, such as cannabis and tramadol in Togolese society, especially in some schools,” said Dr. Gbekou Kodjovi, representing the National Director of Compassion International Togo.
According to the leadership of Compassion International Togo, the implementation of this project started from an alarming observation. According to a 2020 study by the NGO, out of 362 young people in six of its partner churches in the Gulf prefectures, Yoto and Vo, 83.4% of young people and adolescents aged 15 to 21 suffered from depression in all its forms. The prevalence of depression was significantly higher among girls (88.0%) than boys (78.2%). The survey also found numerous cases of drug, cigarette and alcohol use at Child and Youth Development Centres in Lomé, Golfe Ouest and Zio Sud clusters.
“As a youth care organization, this data resonates with us. There is therefore an urgent need to act and concrete actions must be taken alongside national authorities to help young people have access to relevant information and to arm themselves against risk factors related to mental health,” said Dr Gbékou, the Senior Manager of Program Support department at Compassion International Togo.
Thus, the project “Intervention on the mental health of young people” aims to reverse the trend in 47 partner churches of Lomé East, Lomé West, Golfe West and Suth Zio clusters. Thanks to this intervention, financed to the tune of 27,703,000 CFA francs, young people from the centres concerned will benefit from awareness-raising, screening and support in the event of serious mental disorders for harmonious holistic development.
Specifically, the project aims to train 141 youth facilitators and supervisors from Child and Youth Development Centres, on mental health, signs of mental disorders, treatments and prevention of mental illness, by September 2024; to raise awareness among 1,342 young people, 3,000 parents/guardians and 150 volunteers on mental health and ways to preserve the mental balance of young people for their harmonious development by September 2024; Identify and manage mental disorders, including depression, among 1,342 young beneficiaries, including youth living with chronic diseases (HIV, sickle cell disease) by September 2024. The project will also contribute to identifying cases of runaways and drug addiction among young beneficiaries for effective support by September 2024.
At the end of the project, confirmed cases of mental illness will be medically and psychologically monitored. Each Child and Youth Development Centre will have a listening centre led by a psychologist once a month. The partner NGO’s psychologists will provide support to young people in difficulty with mental health problems, or to ensure comprehensive care until their full recovery.
It should be noted that the meeting, placed under the theme: “Right to mental health among young people: what approaches to solutions to depression and psychoactive substance use?”, offered an opportunity for Compassion International Togo to raise awareness among young people, animators and church actors on solution approaches to combat depression and the use of psychoactive substances among young beneficiaries. This was achieved through a conference-debate moderated by health stakeholders.
It should be noted that other NGOs such as Halsa International, RAPPA, Blue Cross, Action for Aid and Support for the Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts, were present at the meeting which was launched by the coordinator of the National Product Addiction Program Psychoactive.