The Leprosy Mission, Nigeria (TLMN), has inaugurated ‘Wellness Connect’, a toll-free Call Centre dedicated to providing psychological support services for individuals to help address mental health issues across the country.

The National Director of TLMN, Dr Sunday Udo, in an address at the ceremony, said the inauguration of the centre is a journey that would strengthen mental health counseling services.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme is supported by Federal Ministry of Health, Swedish Mission Council (SMC), Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and Comic Relief.

According to Udo, the services are for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), those with leprosy, and any individual facing mental health challenge in Nigeria.

“Our commitment to providing support, inclusivity and empowerment for these groups often overlooked and marginalised is unwavering.

“With the inauguration of this call centre, we take another significant step towards ensuring that their voices are heard, concerns addressed and mental well-being prioritised.

“As we all know, mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being. It is a facet of healthcare that unjustly receives less attention than it deserves globally but worst in Nigeria, especially when it comes to PWDs.

“Combating the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health has been an ongoing battle today; we stand strong to fight that fight.

“This toll free call centre will serve as a life line for PWDs who are struggling with mental health challenges. It will provide a safe and confidential space for them to share their thoughts and emotions,” Udo said.

He added that it would also help them seek for guidance and assist them in acquiring the necessary tools and skills to manage and cope with their mental well-being.

Udo further explained that the highly dedicated and trained counsellors would be available round-the-clock in the days that it would be operating, to offer empathetic and professional care and support online.

He stressed that TLMN recognised the connection between disability and mental health issues, adding that the Mission is going to provide services to all.

“We are grateful and indebted to SMC, Sida, Comic Relief, the Federal Government of Nigeria and others, for their support and belief in our mission amd calling.

“As we inaugurate this Centre, I hope and trust it will be a symbol of hope, progress and a positive change in the field of mental health and provision of support to those with disabilities.”

In his goodwill message, Malam Mohammed Isah, the Senior Special Assistant to President Bola Tinubu on Special Needs and Equal Opportunity, said that a lot of rural dwellers also suffer from mental health issues.

“The establishment of the toll free call centre by TLMN represents a beacon of hope for those that are marginalised and overlooked.

“It is a testament to our commitment to ensuring that every citizen, regardless of background or circumstances, access the services and support they need to treat their mental health issues.

“Psychological distress knows no boundary; it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or economic status.

“The TLMN Wellness Connect will serve as a life line for those in need of self and confidential space where they can seek support without fear of judgement or prejudice,” Isah said.

The TLMN Board Chairperson, Mrs Nella Rabana, in her remark, said the desire of the Mission is to see that PWDs and those who are mentally sick, are happy.

Rabana, who was represented by Dr Wakil Akande, explained that the Mission wants to create an avenue for those with the challenge.

“We want them to know that, in the secret of their rooms, they could call the centre amd someone would answer.

“We want to place people at strategic locations to answer their questions thereby pulling them out of the challenges of life that is confronting them.”

NAN reports that a high point of the event was a live demonstration where the facilitator, Ms Christine Bestman, after her presentation on the service purpose, scope and orientation, put a call to the Wellness Connect Centre on 080-0000-5060.

Isah also put a call to the number and communicated with the Centre in Hausa language.

Some stakeholders raised concerns for the deaf and requested that the TLMN should carry them along by providing a WhatsApp number that people with hearing impairment could access the services.

The event attracted stakeholders from the disability communities from across the country. (NAN)

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