Walter Kazadi, the WHO Representative to Nigeria, emphasized the media's crucial role in enhancing public understanding of mental health and substance disorders.
He made this statement during a two-day mental health training for 40 journalists in Abuja as part of the 2023 World Mental Health Day commemoration.
This global event, celebrated on October 10 annually, aims to raise awareness and advocate for mental health as a universal human right, with this year's theme being "Mental Health is a Universal Human Right."
Kazadi highlighted that mental health significantly influences how individuals think, feel, and act, underscoring the importance of journalists in educating the public about this vital topic. He urged journalists to enhance their knowledge of mental health issues, given the significance of their work.
Dr. Tunde Ojo, the National Coordinator of National Mental Health at the Ministry of Health, advised journalists to consult mental health experts and conduct thorough research when covering mental health topics. He emphasized that mental health encompasses complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not simply the absence of disease. Ojo stressed that using appropriate language is essential to avoid unintentional harm and stigma, but when done correctly, journalists have the power to positively impact lives.
Furthermore, Ojo encouraged journalists to approach interviews with individuals dealing with mental health challenges with empathy, refrain from asking inciting questions, and protect their sources when possible.