By Oluwakemi Oladipo
Lagos – Mr Toluwalashe Soyemi, a fourth year medical student of the Lagos State University (LASU), has been honoured with the Diana Award for creating and sustaining positive change in mental health in communities.
Mr Ademola Adekoya, the institution’s Head of Centre for Information, Press and Public Relation, made the disclosure in a statement in Lagos.
“Soyemi is a hero, who at the age of 18, co-founded Protostar Initiative.
“Protostar Initiative is a youth-led social venture committed to providing mental health education in communities while advocating for destigmatisation of mental health conditions.
“Diana Award established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, is the highest accolade and most prestigious award a young person can get for social action or humanitarian efforts.
“After a rigorous process, Soyemi was selected alongside 184 recipients from 35 countries.
“He is one of the nine Nigerians selected,” Adekoya said.
According to him, Soyemi works with local communities to train young people in mental health first aid and raises awareness in schools and other youth organisations.
“These training sessions dispel common myths and help people to recognise symptoms and access support mechanisms for mental health conditions.
“In view of the international pandemic that has restricted movements, Soyemi and his team members have been working on a project that aims to provide online mental health services (counselling, therapy etc) to 1,000 people within six months, for free.
“Soyemi is campaigning for a world in which everyone is educated on mental health and where every person with a mental health condition can access the support,” he said.
Adekoya said that it was not the first time Soyemi would be putting LASU on the global map.
“Last year, he was selected on a fully-funded scholarship to represent Nigeria in Shenzhen, China, for the ‘Unleash Innovation Lab’ as a United Nation SDG Talent to pitch his project on mental health.
“He has got multiple international opportunities in support of his project on mental health,” the official said.
Tessy Ojo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Diana Award, congratulated all new Diana Award recipients, according to the statemen.
Ojo described them as change makers, hoping that the honour would encourage them to inspire more young people to get actively involved in their communities.
“For over 20 years, Diana Award has valued and invested in young people, encouraging them to make positive change in their communities and in the lives of others,” Ojo added.