Oladele Lawal – “Voices in my Head”

Mental health has historically been neglected in Africa’s health and development policy agenda. Faced with many challenges, including intractable poverty, infectious diseases, maternal and child mortality, as well as conflict, African political leaders, and international development agencies frequently overlook the importance of mental health.

This trend is often compounded by three factors: ignorance about the extent of mental health problems, stigma against those living with mental illness, and mistaken beliefs that mental illnesses cannot be treated. The absence of treatment is the norm rather than the exception across the continent. The “treatment gap” – the proportion of people with mental illness who don’t get treatment – ranges from 75% in South Africa to more than 90% in Ethiopia and Nigeria.

As someone who has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, all I wanted and searched for was peace, peace of mind. Kept asking myself why this was happening to me? Is my heart failing? my parents took me to the hospital as I started to get intense shivers and constant headaches whilst still having shortness of breath. All my tests came clean and then I sought out the help of a psychologist, my family felt I was crazy for doing that. Well, it helped, speaking up and knowing you’re not alone helped me. Hence my body of work for this project is depicting how I felt in those dark patches of my life, isolation, confusion, yearning to get out of that space of fear and uncertainty.

Improving mental health is a means of unlocking development potential – a neglected link in the development chain in Africa. Investing in mental health means promoting resilience on the African continent. Mental health is both a means to social and economic development and a worthy goal in itself.

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Oladele Kaleef Lawal, a 26-year-old professional photographer that hails from Lagos State, Nigeria. who focuses on various forms of portrait photography (fashion, beauty, and documentary). Oladele has been a photographer since 2012, however professionally from 2014.

Having studied microbiology at the University of Lagos, akoka, Lagos, Nigeria. Oladele moved on to study Photography, taking a short certification course at the Africa Digital Media Institute, Nairobi, Kenya. He is currently working on personal projects based on various forms of visual storytelling and literacy. And is currently based in Lagos, Nigeria.

10 reviews for Oladele Lawal – “Voices in my Head”

  1. Toni Akose Ogobegwu

    Mental healthcare is one of Africa’s greatest challenges, but sadly, most neglected. Thanks for highlighting this need, and we can only hope that policy makers see this as important.

  2. Bethy

    This is a brilliant reflection of the human psychological state. Often unrelatable, thought through over and again, disposing many out of balance…. It’s a good one Kaleef, keep it going..

  3. Nimi

    Beautiful piece

  4. Swabra Ahmed

    Beautiful message and creativity in your pictures.

  5. Deborah Bodunde

    A masterpiece. Mental health is underrated. Thank you for this ❤️

  6. Karl

    When experience becomes art it becomes a gift to others.

  7. Christine Boateng

    This is great Kaleef, Thanks so much for sharing your work and beautiful message.

  8. Orji Jerry

    This is a beautiful piece and very expository too. Well done.

  9. Orji Jerry

    More attention needs to be paid to mental health. This is a beautiful piece and very expository too. Well done.

  10. Jolaoluwa

    This is so profound. Thank you for your activism and for lending your voice this way. Very commendable

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