Broadcast Media Intervention in Mental Health Challenge in Edo State, Nigeria

In most communities, especially in Africa, people with mental health challenges are denigrated; the society is not sympathetic with sufferers of mental illness. A lot of issues can trigger mental illness. These can be stress (economic stress, social stress, educational stress, etc); hereditary factors; war and aggression; rape; spiritual factors, to mention a few. Therefore, there is the need for understanding and awareness creation among the people as one of the ways of addressing the problem. Methodologically, this study deploys analytical, observation and interview techniques. In doing this, it uses the Edo State, Nigeria scenario to critically reflect, albeit preliminarily, on the interventionist role the broadcast media have played/are playing/should play in creating awareness and providing support systems for mentally challenged persons in urban and rural centres in Nigeria. The study argues that television and radio media are very innovative and their innovativeness can be deployed in the area of putting mental health issue in the public discourse and calling for action. This is because, as modern means of mass communication, radio and television engender a technologically negotiated reaching-out or dissemination of information which naturally flows to all manner of persons regardless of their place of abode, class, political, social or religious orientations and persuasions. It further argues that although radio and television can readily provide friendly platforms for people to interact, with the intent of sensitizing and mobilising others to individually or collectively support identified social causes, their potentialities are yet to be fully explored in terms of programming, social responsibility as well as the maintenance of public good, with regard to creating awareness and understanding among the people toward remediating the prevalent problem of mentally challenged persons in Edo State, Nigeria. To reverse this, the study calls for a greater nexusing of the broadcast media and mental health issues, through carefully designed radio and television programmes, to reduce the culturally placed stigma associated with mental illness and remediate the incidences of overt and covert mental health cases in Edo State, Nigeria.