Mental Health issues remain a major conversation in Nigeria, where an understanding of the varied mental health condition is still shrouded in ignorance, misinformation, and superstitions.
One lone voice who has repeatedly stood out and remained consistent, working to end mental health stigma, and creating a comfortable environment for open conversations about mental health issues, is Dr. Victor Ugo.
Dr. Victor is the Founder of Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative, a youth-driven Mental Health Organization that is committed to topical mental health issues.
In a LinkedIn post, Dr. Victor recognized the years of hard work and dedication he had to invest in a Mental Health organization project he strongly believed in and that has since 2015 grown to a Mental Health Company of international repute.
Victor Ugo and his team have been able to push the conversation of mental health on to international platforms with the most recent being a conversation he attended as a young leader from the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust Network.
A selected number of young persons met with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, President, and Vice-President of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT)
The group met at Buckingham Palace to discuss mental health, equal opportunities for all, and the importance of supporting youth leadership to help address global challenges and drive positive change around the world.
Those in attendance with The Duke and Duchess from QCT were: Kenny Imafidon, social entrepreneur, activist, and QCT Advisor, who helped to host the discussion; Esther Marshall, founder of sTandTall and author of the Sophie Says series; Izzy Obeng, founder of Foundervine; Victor Ugo, founder of Mentally Aware Nigeria; and co-founders of Birmingham-based female empowerment organization Girldreamer, Kiran Kaur and Amna Akhtar.
His LinkedIn post;
My name is Victor Ugo, & I’m a retired medical doctor” – this is my most common starting line whenever I’m up to speak. There’s the usual uncertainty on the faces of people, most of them thinking – this has to be a joke. Said with a smile, & a soft laugh from everyone seconds later, it hides the struggles I’ve had to endure to make the Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative dream possible.
The countless sleepless nights, thousands of email rejections for support, my self-enforced unemployment for 3 years to focus on the organization, and the necessary use of my savings to keep the vision afloat. My unchanging goal was always to build the kind of support network and community I had when I was facing my own difficulties, so that young Nigerians can grow in an environment that allows them to feel, without shame; a society that listens to & supports them; & a government that takes the provision of optimal mental health services seriously. I’m so proud that those sacrifices, have got us to a point where we can talk about our work to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle.
Thank you to The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust for this incredible opportunity. This has been a journey & It’s been such a dream.