During the week, a popular actress, Genevieve Nnaji, was alleged to have had a mental health crisis. Though this has not been confirmed by the actress or her handlers, her fans have continued to pray for her and send her messages of support.
Just like ‘ordinary’ Nigerians, quite a number of celebrities have had their own share of mental health issues, despite their successes, fame and fortune.
In this piece, Saturday Beats takes a look at other celebrities that have had such issues
Gbolahan Olajide (Kayvee)
Gbolahan Olajide, a photographer, was a housemate on the 2021 edition of Big Brother Naija (Season six) tagged ‘Shine ya Eye’.
However, barely a week into his stay in the show, he withdrew from the competition on medical grounds on Monday, August 16, 2021. He later explained that it was because he had a mental breakdown.
In a statement on why he withdrew from the Big Brother house, Kayvee said, “I underestimated the effect isolation would have on my mental health and integrating with the other housemates.
“I honestly wanted to stay till the 72nd day, and I believe that I have the personality, the empathy, and the game spirit to have made it to the end.
“But, certain events that happened in quick succession escalated the anxiety I felt and impacted my being the jovial, energetic and fun person that I am.”
Harrison Okiri (Harrysong)
Harrison Okiri, better known as Harrysong, is undoubtedly a talented singer, songwriter and instrumentalist.
With many hits to his name, the singer seems to have it all. But, on September 5 2018, the entertainer shocked his fans when he wrote on Instagram, “Don’t cry (when) I die. Celebrate, put up a kingmaker concert, and empower more youths. I have lived. I have done my bit; carry on in grace.”
About 22 hours after the post, his manager, Desmond Ike-Chima, stated that the artiste was dealing with ‘slight emotional issues’, and that he had booked a session with an emotional intelligence coach.
Tunji Balogun (TeeBillz)
Tunji Balogun, aka Teebillz, the estranged husband of music star, Tiwa Savage, has also had to deal with mental illness. He was reported to have suffered depression and he attempted suicide when his three-year marriage to Savage crashed ended.
Recall that in April 2016, Teebillz had taken to social media to rant about his wife and her mother. According to him, Savage had cheated on him and her mother was diabolical. Shortly after the social media meltdown, he was alleged to have attempted suicide by trying to jump into the Lagos lagoon. But, he was rescued by singer and his friend, Banky W.
About eight months after the incident, Balogun revealed what made him to attempt suicide. He wrote, “Black people have been suffering from pride when it comes to seeking help. We (black people) laugh at people for going to see a therapist.
“We look down on people who seek help for mental health and depression, but the truth is that most of us need help.
“It is hard to be normal when one is literally on fire in one’s mind and spirit. All the money and fame in the world cannot stop one from having such thoughts.
“I would encourage you (anybody suffering from mental illness) to seek help.
“Suicide is real and going crazy is real.”
In 2020, actress, Tonto Dikeh, opened up on her past struggle with depression, and how music producer, Don Jazzy, and music executive, Tee Billz, ‘rescued’ her from committing suicide.
Recalling the incident that led to the attempted suicide, Dikeh said, “This was me 9/10 years ago. I am here because I believed there was much more to life than my situation. I wanted to badly believe that God did not hate me. I wanted to badly stop the hurt but it just kept coming so strong.
“Today is a perfect day to die’, I said to myself. However, God spared me and He showed me how much love he had for me that day. Shout out to Teebillz and Don Jazzy for coming to my rescue. I honestly pray for you every day.”
Actress, Halima Abubakar, has often spoken about on how she had a tough time with media reportage of her person and activities. According to her, she became depressed as a result of that.
She also stated that after a relationship she was in collapsed, she did not handle it well, and that led to her having sleepless nights and constant migraines. She also claimed that at some point, she could not sleep for about two weeks.
She said, “There were a lot of things that were wrong with me and led to my depression. I was angry and broke. People lied against me and they also told lies in my name. I was deceived by the people I loved. I was seriously broke at the time and I had lots of responsibilities. Everything just got to me at the same time and I was fed up. I wanted to kill myself because there was nobody to help me.’’
Rapper and entrepreneur, Eva Alordiah, took to her Twitter page on March 1, 2022, to share her experience battling depression.
She wrote, “Five years ago, I gave up my dream of becoming the greatest female rapper in Africa. I was suffering (from) a deep, dark depression. Today, I own a tech start-up. I have a new life and I’m recording (songs) again.
“I now understand depression to be a spiritual experience— a shedding of old layers, the stripping away of illusion, a coming face to face with all that is not.
“The depression was the pathway to my awakening. It forced me to give up who I thought I was, to block off everyone else and their dogmas, and to accept a state of nothingness. I found peace when I accepted myself as nothing.”
Actor, Deyemi Okanlawon, recently stated that playing the role of Kola Ademola (a serial abuser) in the movie series, ‘Blood Sisters’, was a mentally draining process.
He wrote on social media, “Kola Ademola definitely affected me more than I care to admit and it took months to get to a semblance of normalcy. Strangely, while I still firmly believe aggression should be met with justice, I now empathise with people who carry such demons.
“Being raised from childhood not to ever hit a woman, it was pure torture to have to push past that to get to the point where the rage and emotions (which my scene partner also needed for her performance) were real yet have the willpower to ensure there was no physical contact.”
Celebs dealing with mental health issues should seek help
In a bid to proffer solutions to entertainers suffering from depression and mental illness, Saturday Beats spoke to a psychologist, Dr Afolabi Aroyehun, who advised celebs dealing with such issues to seek help.
Speaking on likely causes of depression in entertainers, Aroyehun said, “Loss of followers can cause depression (in entertainers), when they suddenly realise that people are no longer following them. That is one of the dangers of living one’s life on social media, instead of living in the real world.“Many of them (entertainers) lose contracts and endorsement deals, and the fact that they cannot handle it is enough to trigger them, especially when those are the things that gave them fame. Many entertainers exhibit what is called a ‘medicated lifestyle’. They are not happy with their lifestyles, so many of them take drugs and alcohol to be able to elicit certain behaviours.
“A medicated lifestyle will not help anybody; it is better to be yourself. Whenever they are dealing with any emotional problem, they should seek help and not medicate themselves with illicit substances or alcohol.”