He has been a consistent champion for Mental Health and Workplace Wellness in Nigeria volunteering as a counsellor and trainer. Toluse Dove Francis has trained over 1000 mental health counsellor, provided resources to over 11,000 persons on a single platform (Udemy) and has worked with companies across different industries.
As a mental health educator, he is constantly educating people across the world through his courses which till date has over 14,000 enrolments. He is a YouTuber and has earned the name “The Mentalist”, and the man behind the microphone of the Rising Heroes Podcast.
He also is the convener of an annual event tagged: Breaking the Habit Code, where he helps individuals break habits that hinder them from being their very best.
On an international scale, Toluse Dove Francis is a board director at The World Federation for Mental Health and was recently recognized as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) class of 2020 in the health and medical category.
He speaks at conferences and seminars home and abroad. Toluse is a regular trainer with TrainHR (US), where he trains Human Resource Professionals across the world on subjects around mental and emotional health.
In 2020, he was a speaker at the Mental Health Show, and at Cardiff and Mental Health Global Challenges Conference in Ukraine where he presented a paper and spoke on The Roles Virtual Reality Therapy play in recovery from mental illness.
Interview With Toluse Dove Francis:
As a young mental health expert affecting people’s lives positively, how well do you think university students from poor backgrounds can manage stress effectively and perform excellently in academics?
I don’t think a person’s background has anything to do with stress management. Stress management is more of the individual involved than the financial status of the person. What this means is that you have to know what the stressor is and work at mitigating it or dealing with it.
Both the rich and poor get stressed hence it has no respect for financial status and managing it involves planning your activities, knowing what rest means to you and looking for it no matter how short it is.
In terms of academic performance, I do understand that there is no clear-cut answer to this because being poor has levels. So I would say it is important to see how you can make up for what you don’t have in one way or another legitimately. Pay attention in class, don’t compare yourself with others, dream big and let the dream cause you to run after something.
In Africa, we see men in large polygamous family who has never visited a counselor or a therapist before. Do you see people here becoming open to professional therapy in attending to domestic and mental issues?
I will like to say that it is not just those from polygamous homes who don’t see therapists. So, I’ll like to look at it from a human perspective and not a status perspective. We are not there yet but the response we had years ago isn’t the same as now. People are beginning to get more aware and there is more advocacy and education around mental health so I believe that with time, many more will show up.
Do you think the cost of therapy service is one of the factors poor people can’t afford to sit on that couch?
Is quality healthcare generally affordable for the poor? Let us start from there. I would say quality healthcare generally isn’t affordable hence therapy might be classified there too. However, it is more of the acceptance that it is worth doing than the cost in my view.
How has life been for you as a mental health expert?
Interesting, intriguing and challenging I must say. Life as an expert has been fun and challenging. Challenging because you get to bear the burden of others while still trying to be sane. There’s also the place of confidentiality so you can’t just open your mouth and be saying things. The fun for me is that I get to dive into the mind of others in order to help them say what they are thinking or find words to their thoughts.
What’s your advice for the underprivileged and the unemployed going through depression in a time like this?
Whatever your hands find to do that is legitimate, please do. Whatever it is you can do that is legitimate even if it is not what you planned doing, please do. Finally, hang in there. Don’t keep quiet.
Toluse Dove Francis is also one of the 100 Under 40 Worldwide in the Health Care & COVID Heroes in support of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.
By Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.