A non-governmental organisation, Origami Society Nigeria, has on the occasion of the 2022 World Mental Health Day, advocated the prioritisation of mental health support for all, especially for people with disabilities.
Members of the organisation recently made this known, in Lagos, during the second edition of their programme tagged ‘Origami in Mental Health’, which was a 2-day summit themed ‘Make mental health a priority for all’.
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day was ‘Mental health in an unequal world’. So, the organisation decided to focus on disability inclusion, in line with one of its core values, which is ‘Community Spirit and Inclusion’.
The founder of Origami Society Nigeria and creative director of iFoldedit Origami, Oluwatobi Sodimu, on the first day of the event − which was held virtually − highlighted the mental health aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, unavailability of mental health professionals, and the persistent socio-economic challenges in Nigeria and all over the world.
“These challenges have necessitated community-based initiatives and funding of innovative solutions to provide psychosocial support and interventions to mitigate mental health problems,” he said.
He added that Origami in Mental Health was created to bridge the gap in mental health through collaborations with relevant organisations/institutions, advocacy, and support through Origami-related workshops to provide psychosocial support.
Toshiko Kobayashi, the keynote speaker at the event, emphasised the therapeutic nature and healing power of origami artwork. She demonstrated to the guests how folding a piece of paper could be a relieving and productive engagement.
Mrs Precious Eberechukwu, a representative of Women’s Rights and Health Project, explained how they provide legal and psychosocial support, with origami being one of the tools for victims of gender-based violence who go through anxiety, PTSD, and depression.
Oyin Talabi, a wellness coach, emphasised the importance of breath-work to remind the body that it is not stressed. She went on to demonstrate how this works.
Dare Asobele spoke on how his initiative, Asads, champions mental health advocacy by utilising the social media, as well as creating a team of mental health first-aiders.
Chima Orduah, a director at Friends of People Living with Disabilities, spoke about how his organisation takes care of people with disabilities through empowerment schemes and provision of psychosocial support.
He expressed his excitement on his partnership with Origami Society and how the organisation is opened to new and creative ways of helping people with disabilities to lead a better life.
During the panel session, one of the panelists, Dr Lizzie Burns, a science-based artist based in Oxford, United Kingdom, highlighted the effectiveness of origami in oncology and how it helps people living with cancer get distracted from the uncertainty and anxiety that come with their health.
Burns urged people with mental health challenges to engage in creative engagements that help them lead a better life during and post-hospitalisation.
Tobiloba Ajayi, another panelist who lives with cerebral palsy and founder of Let’s Celebral Palsy Kids Learn Foundation, explained the different spectrum of cerebral palsy.
Ajayi stressed that not all people living with the disorder are dependent, and that people with disabilities should be seen first as human beings rather than as disabled. She called on the society to be proactive and to remove barriers for people with disabilities.
Dr Ebonhor, chairman of Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities, Ogun State, shared the struggles and rejections faced by people with disabilities and called for empathy and inclusion.
During the physical session of the event, held at Friends of People with Disabilities Centre, Lagos, Mr Chima − a director at FOPLWD − expressed his appreciation to Origami Society for introducing the creative intervention to improve the mental health of the beneficiaries.
“Regardless of their disabilities, they were all eager to fold papers into artworks and had an awesome time sharing and teaching one another,” he said.
Mr Bartholomew Ogbonna, an administrative officer at FOPLWD, said, “Origami in Mental Health has shown that beyond people’s physical limitations lies a creative mind that is always able to break barriers.”
At the event, Sodimu introduced the art of origami to the guests and taught them how to fold a swan. Mr John Adenle taught them how to fold a bird.
Mr Peter Adeoti, who lives with a disability, showed the guests how to fold a 2D heart sculpture.
Sodimu noted, at the end of the event, that origami artworks are reliable psychosocial intervention that helps people − regardless of their abilities or disabilities – to lead a better live.