On October 10, 2022, staff, members, partners and invited guests of Mobile Manna Foundation gathered at Governor’s Office Annex, Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State to celebrate International World Mental Health Day. The theme for this year’s event was “Making Mental Health and Wellbeing for All a Global Priority” and was carried out under the distinguished chairmanship of Professor Des Wilson. 

Before the event kicked off proper, there was an awareness walk from the Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre at No. 72, Ikot Udoro Street, Off Ikot Ekpene Road through Ibom Plaza and all the way to the Colloquium’s venue. 

The event proper began at 1:30 pm. The Master of Ceremony, Mrs Imaobong Udo (Angel) started the event by welcoming the audience and recognizing special guests before inviting them to the high table. She then welcomed her co-Master of Ceremony, Dr Happiness Uduk to the microphone. Dr Happiness invited Dr Uduak Umoh, Head of Department, Computer Science, University of Uyo to take the opening prayer. 

Father Donatus Ukpong, the Founder and CEO of Mobile Manna Foundation led the audience to recite the National Anthem and the Manna Prayer. Afterwards, Father Ukpong read a special message to properly open the event. In his message, Father Ukpong thanked God for the ability to gather without special protocols to celebrate another World Mental Health Day. He mentioned that the Covid-19 pandemic was devastating and is still menacing the mental health and well-being of many in some places. He further mentioned that the resilience of the Nigerian people is being put to test beyond its elastic limit. “We shall continue to raise the bar of hope for every human person, by demonstrating that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all,’” he stated firmly. 

He further stated that the event would examine how a state or government can prioritize the mental health and well-being of their citizens. He appealed to all residents of Akwa Ibom State to take personal responsibility for their mental health and well-being and not to look for wellness where it cannot be found. 

The Chairman, Professor Des Wilson gave his opening remarks. Standing on already existing protocols, he asked that we love the mentally ill and pull them closer instead of shunning them and putting them away. He encouraged the audience to listen to the beautiful ideas that will be shared throughout the Colloquium and to put them to good use in their families, churches and communities at large.

St. Peter Parish Choir, Ifa Ikot Obong then took the stage to sonorously render the Foundation’s World Mental Health Day hymn. The hymn celebrated and reinforced the work Mobile Manna Foundation is doing to heal and restore the dignity of the mentally ill in Akwa Ibom State.

Dr Happiness, still acting in the capacity of Master of Ceremony, invited Dr Patrick Umoh for his lecture. He spoke on the topic, “Mental Wellness for Sustainable Development: Legal and Political Framework for Nigeria.”

He briefly commended the Mobile Manna Foundation for her many interventions and mentioned that apart from Mobile Manna Foundation, there is only one psychiatric hospital in Akwa Ibom State. He also talked about how mainstream music amplifies and applauds the use of substances. He further mentioned that the world has changed in many drastic ways and living has become increasingly harder. “Man is man because of sanity,” he said. “We must protect it.”

In his lecture, he did not fail to properly expose how the citizens, the constitution and public institutions fail to hold the government accountable for their failure in prioritizing mental wellness and in other sectors. He also did not fail to point out the absence of government officials in the event and other events such as this one.

He implored that individuals, laws and institutions have no hand in discrimination on grounds of mental illness. He asked that Mobile Manna Foundation undertake a social experiment by secretly visiting local churches and prayer houses to see how many mentally ill persons are beaten to a pulp to chase out their illness. 

After the enriching lecture, Dr Happiness opened the floor for reactions. Several questions and comments were given and duly addressed. Most reactions from the audience and the high table revolved around getting everyone involved: government, public institutions and institutions of learning, churches, communities, and individuals. If one suffers, it affects the work that must be done.

Thereafter, a representative of the National Council of Women Society, Akwa Ibom State Chapter took to the podium to give her goodwill message. She thanked and encouraged the foundation for its good works. She also spoke on mental health care being domiciled in primary health care because families and individuals have failed to report these issues. “We always fail to bring these mental health issues to the fore. By not speaking on the drug epidemic, we are conforming to the situation,” she said.

Afterwards, Dr Happiness asked that those who want to support the foundation come to the centre to see the work that’s being done and give their support by whatever means possible, be it cash, clothes, food items, drugs support, etc. She also asked that those who wanted to donate in cash ask the ushers for the Foundation’s account details. 

Thereafter, a partner of the Foundation, Channels of Goodnews in Africa took the stage to render a song about Nigeria’s glorious future.

Standing on already existing protocols, Honourable Justice Winifred Effiong, Director of Administration and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee gave the vote of thanks.

The Chairman of the occasion, Professor Des Wilson, gave the closing remarks. The closing prayers were said by a member of the high table, Mr Akaninyene Paulinus.

The event had about 130 participants in attendance. It came to a close at 4:10 pm.

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