In our piece this week, we learn about the inspiring story of NGO Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) and its founder, Victor Hugo. MANI is Nigeria’s largest youth-run and youth-focused mental health organisation. They are a community of young people who are championing the fight against mental health-related stigma and creating an environment that makes it possible for people to seek care for their mental health without fear of discrimination.
We live in a digital age where 57% of the world’s population is connected to the internet; 7.3 billion people access the internet on their phones. Many young people access health information on the internet. There is significant concern and controversy about the harm and dangers of uncontrolled access to the internet for young people. Organisations like Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) leverage this opportunity to bridge the gap in adolescent mental health by “…enabling conversations about reducing harm whilst providing solutions for young people in the same space where they encounter the harm.”
Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) serves as a powerful case study in how to use positive asset framing, storytelling, community participation, and data-driven approaches to catalyze policy change to improve the mental wellbeing of young people.