Duchess International Magazine’s International Women’s Day Conference 2024: Dr. Vicky Minkah-Adom Advocates for Mental Health Support and Understanding in Africa

Dr. Vicky Minkah-Adom, a partner in the NHS, UK, delivered a thought-provoking presentation at the Duchess International Women’s Day Conference 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya, calling for greater support and understanding for mental health issues, particularly among women and girls in Africa. Her message was clear: the stigma around mental health must end, and communities must come together to support those struggling with these often-hidden challenges.

Dr. Minkah-Adom began her talk by sharing her own journey, detailing how significant life experiences, despite having no family history of mental health issues, impacted her well-being. This personal connection underscored the reality that mental health can affect anyone, regardless of background or status. She stressed that empathy and support are crucial, as insensitive attitudes and judgment can exacerbate mental health problems, leading to further isolation and despair.

The statistics Dr. Minkah-Adom presented were alarming, shedding light on the widespread nature of mental health issues in Africa. She cited data from the World Health Organization (WHO), revealing that one in four people in Nigeria, about 50 million individuals, suffer from some form of mental disorder. Nigeria has the highest rate of depression in Africa and ranks 15th globally in suicide rates. These figures highlighted the urgency of addressing mental health on the continent and the need for a concerted effort to combat these issues.

In discussing anxiety, Dr. Minkah-Adom clarified that while feeling anxious is a normal part of life, excessive or chronic anxiety could be a sign of a deeper problem. She outlined several causes, including genetics, life experiences, and environmental factors, emphasizing that anxiety can manifest in various ways. She also described the different types of anxiety disorders, illustrating how they can significantly impact a person’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being.

To manage anxiety and depression, Dr. Minkah-Adom advocated for a multi-faceted approach. She recommended a combination of support, including community and faith groups, and professional interventions like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and applied relaxation techniques. She also called for more education to reduce stigma and promote understanding, suggesting that awareness and open discussions can lead to better mental health outcomes for individuals and communities alike.

Dr. Vicky Minkah-Adom’s presentation at the Duchess International Women’s Day Conference 2024 struck a chord with attendees, encouraging a more compassionate approach to mental health. Her advocacy for support, understanding, and education for women and girls in Africa serves as a reminder that the journey to improved mental well-being requires collective effort and empathy. By fostering a supportive environment, Africa can make significant strides in addressing mental health issues and promoting overall wellness.


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