Photograph by Bernard Iruobe Anakhu
Photograph by Bernard Iruobe Anakhu
Out of the Shadows discusses the stigma of mental illness along with Rotary programs for prevention and earlier treatment (Rotary Magazine May 2021). It leads with the Action Group on Mental Health Initiatives and continues with clubs implementing its 'Wellness in a Box' toolkit to:
  • replace stigma with knowledge of prevention and treatment
  • communicate a protocol for referral
  • train existing school staff as counselors
Additional Rotary toolkits described include 'Don't Bottle it Up', the campaign founded by action group member Darren Hands. Go to the RESOURCES tab above to see the toolkits. You may view the full article in your print or online Rotary Magazine for May or through this link:
The Rotary Magazine article focused on the achievements and not the many barriers.  The Rotarian photographed representing Nigeria in the article, Felix Kingsley-Obialo, was carjacked the same year he launched the project. In fact, simply commuting is a common barrier for most of the population. The people of Nigeria are resilient and innovative in the face of many stressors and are eager for new knowledge and other protective factors. For example, I saw the largest turnout I have seen in any country at a middle school hosting a parent workshop on depression awareness and prevention.

The key point is that your club can make mental health your club service. The toolkits under the RESOURCE tab of this website build on the fact that we are each born with a unique biology into a specific family. Those factors are a given; the factors most under our control are the way we respond to stressors. Everyone can improve coping skills for:
- relationships
- achievement
- mood
The toolkits are in a train-the-trainer model so anyone can implement, anywhere. Action group members can get coaching from other group members. The simplest kits build one skill such as awareness or problem solving. The project kit is bundled with a template to develop a protocol for referral and even build capacity for counseling. All the kits help you recognize actions you can do to help yourselelf and others. The idea is well summarized by  Alexander Graham Bell who said, "When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”