August 12 is marked globally as International Youth Day. The day is designated by the United Nations to create awareness draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding the youth. This year’s UN observance was held on the theme, “Youth and Mental Health”.
Within the local region, Ghana, the theme means so much to the many discerning young people who believe that the nation in spite of its strides with regards to promoting mental health still has a long way to go and as such needs to put in place pragmatic steps to springboard it to better and higher achievements.
Journeying along the long winding path of achieving an environment congenial for persons with mental disabilities in Ghana, it is almost impossible to find an appreciable number of young people with much dedication and commitment to the cause without making a detour to pursue a more ‘lucrative’ cause, or compromising their stance on related matters.
This undoubtedly is a major blockade to the promotion of mental health issues in the country; however, amidst the crisis is a shining star recognized for the enormous contribution to cause neglected by many.
Mr. Kelvin Odonkor is a young Ghanaian who has dedicated his time and efforts towards the promotion of causes in mental health. Popularly known as Kobby Blay, he passionately championed the cause of passing the mental health bill in Parliament on social media such that the necessity of the action was made very simple for the lay Ghanaian to understand and join in the campaign.
The mental health bill was eventually passed in August 2012 to the excitement of many young people in the country.
Using social media as a major tool, Kobby Blay has consistently defended the rights of mental health patients and carried out series of social media education on the topic.
His passion has driven him to start and run Ghana Health Nest, Ghana’s most comprehensive health news and educational portal that has largely featured mental health stories.
Mr. Odonkor is a licensed mental health practitioner currently serving at the Department of Psychiatry at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.
On the event of International Youth Day this year, he celebrated as a national icon in the field of health promotion in the country.
By: Jonas Nyabor