OCTOBER 30, 2020- BENIN CITY, EDO STATE. Further to our commitment to providing holistic support to survivors of sex trafficking, we conducted a training on mental health and wellness for 50 survivors on October 30, 2020. The training could not have been more timely, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has triggered past trauma for many survivors and has generated considerable stress for them. In addition, many survivors have also struggled financially due to varying lockdowns and movement restrictions that have resulted in the forced closure of their small businesses. The financial strain and resulting stress has been unbearable for some.
In an effort to ease some of their mental health struggles throughout the pandemic, PJI has consistently provided mental health support via online and mobile phone counseling (by licensed psychologists) to our survivors. Following the most recent easing of #EndSARS related curfews and movement restrictions, on October 30, 2020, we organized a workshop on mental health and wellness (on an individual level, as a mother and as a business owner) to equip them with vital coping skills during these stressful times. The workshop also provided practical tools on how to alleviate stress, including breathing techniques, meditation and prayer (for those who are faith based). The survivors also learned how to manage their triggers and incorporate exercise and healthy eating into their lifestyles. The workshop was followed by one-on-one sessions with licensed psychologists for those that needed additional support.
Notwithstanding these turbulent times, we are hopeful that the coping skills learned will assist our survivors in managing their stress and resulting mental health challenges. We are grateful to our partners at Action Aid Nigeria which made the training workshop possible via its Women’s Voice and Leadership Project (with support from Global Affairs Canada).