As the World Mental Health Day is marked Wednesday, October 10, a Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO, has stated that there are about 6,234 mentally challenged persons in Akwa Ibom communities.
Rev. Godwin Udofa, who is the President of Wonder Life Care Mission International, an NGO with the mandate of evacuating mentally challenged persons off the streets, rehabilitate and reintegrate them to the society, stated this on Tuesday when Straightnews team visited his rehabilitation facility in Ikot Afanga, Oruk Anam local government area of the state.
“In my own research, I have discovered that there are at least three mentally challenged persons in every community. Think of this Akwa Ibom state with 2078 villages; multiply that number with three and the answer you have is possibly the number of mentally challenged persons in Akwa Ibom,” he said.
While noting that the World Federation of Mental Health provides intervention funds and training for mentally challenged persons, Udofa who said that individuals could not access such funds tasked the state government to establish a bureau of mental matters that could have access to these findings.
“We don’t have any organisation that can access such funds. So, if the governor can appoint a special assistant to him on mental matters or establish a bureau of mental matters, I think these funds can be accessed. It is only an agency if government that can get this funding,” he said.
Udofa, who believes that mental illness is a spiritual problem, said that he mainly tackles it with prayers with a little back up of medical science.
Also speaking with Straightnews, Paulinus Uko, one of the healed mentally challenged persons in the facility, thanked the president of the NGO for helping to bring his sanity back.
Recounting his ordeal, Uko, who is a native of Nung Oku Ibiet in Oruk Anam local government area of the state, said he was going about his business in Enugu state when the mental affliction started in 2011.
“It all started in 2011 when I was in Enugu State. I just started hearing strange voices within me and anywhere I went to, they wouldn’t allow me to be friendly with people. They even used to tell me that they are the ones that cause people to hate me.
“They were also responsible for my stagnation in businesses. My parents, who did everything to ensure that my sanity was restored, heard about this place and they brought me three months ago.
“When I used to here voices within me, I would rebuke them because what they were doing in me was not good. I used to have a kind of spiritual attacks. I used to hear voices within me and those voices prompted me to speak to myself.”
Uko, who is a computer operator, pleaded with government and philanthropists to help him get equipments such as scanning machine, photocopier, cutting machine, a power generating set and computers to start his business.
While stating that God allowed him get afflicted with mental illness in order to be a channel of help to other mentally challenged person upon deliverance, encouraged other inmates in the facility to believe in God as He alone could help them.
“I want to thank this pastor for the good work he has done. Immediately my parents brought me here, the pastor started praying for me and now I am a normal person,” Uko noted.
World Mental Health Day is a day set aside for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.
The Wonder Life (Mental Health Rescue Mission), Ikot Afanga sited on a 22-hectare land, which has housed 420 mentally challeneged persons and rehabilitated 292 of them since inception, was founded in 1997.