Government should recognise protests’ effect on mental health, study says

A recent study published by Aside Foundation, a non-profit mental health advocacy organisation, advises stakeholders to recognise the effect of demonstrations on Nigerians’ mental health and invest in the population’s mental health and welfare at all times, particularly during collective activities like the anti-police #EndSARS rallies.

The study was conducted from February 21 to April 1, 2021. Social media users completed an anonymous online survey using a google form to estimate the burden of mental health illness and its factors in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.

A total of 426 people took part in the survey. Twenty-seven per cent of those present did not take part in the #EndSARS protest, while seventy-three per cent did. In comparison to non-demonstrators, the majority of protesters were young, single, and jobless.

Following the #EndSARS rally, both protesters and non-demonstrators had heightened levels of mental health issues, with protesters having much poorer results. Non-protesters at risk of poor mental health include those who are single, jobless and lack resilience.

Based on the findings, the organisation concluded that the government should be more proactive in addressing social problems to avoid collective actions that may result in loss of lives and property, as well as mental health difficulties.

It also urges the government to fund resilience-building programmes and policies that address the social and political determinants of mental health.

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