Last week on Twitter, a tweet flew by me:
I led d first ever Postpartum Depression Awareness Program For Expectant n New Mothers in Nigeria,read about it here https://t.co/rvTRCENyOQ
— Onyedikachi (@Kachi_Gele) October 21, 2015
A Posptartum Depression Awareness Program for Expectant New Mothers in Nigeria? My curiosity was piqued. I tweeted Kachi and asked for more information.
We had quite the flurry of emails.
Onyedikachi Ekwerike is a First-Class graduate of Psychology from Lagos State University and is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree there in the same field.
What made him interested in Postpartum Depression?
“I became hugely interested in postpartum depression after a relative suffered it. She couldn’t name what she was going through and her doctors couldn’t help too. I was however able to detect the problem quickly and helped her get help.”
Kachi said that after he helped his relative, it got him thinking that she couldn’t be the only one experiencing this issue in Nigeria, and he has decided to do something about it.
At the event he held, 150 women attended. They were all screened using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. 40 of these women scored above 10 on the scale, putting the rate of positive returns at 26%. Of those 40, 10 of the women admitted to experiencing suicidal thoughts, according to Kachi. The women who tested positive were referred to clinical psychologists for further help.
“There are plans in place to continue this programme as the feedbacks we’ve received so far has been very encouraging. My goal is to take the training Nationwide as less than 1% of Nigerian women know about these problem. “
I asked Kachi if he had experienced any cultural push back to discussing the issue of postpartum depression. (Mental health is very stigmatized in African countries. A recent NY Times article cast some light on just how stigmatized.) He said no, but offered this:
“However among the women many still believe that the problem is spiritual! So they will rather go to pastors than to Clinical Psychologists to get help.
Another challenge is the field of Psychology is in its infant years here. Not many people know psychologists, and there is so much stigma attached to visiting the psychiatric hospital so they will seldom visit one!! Which is something this awareness programme also aims to address.”
The biggest challenges he faces right now aside from raising awareness? Building a network of knowledgeable professionals and cost. Sound familiar?
I am very happy to have connected with Kachi. He’s doing great things and I strongly believe only has even greater things ahead of him. Keep up the great work!
Images used with permission.