‘Parents should live up to their responsibilities’

Dr. Maymunah Kadiri, MD/CEO of Pinnacle Medical Services, Lagos

Dr. Maymunah Kadiri is a multiple award-winning mental health physician, psychotherapist and advocate. She is currently the MD/CEO of Pinnacle Medical Services, Lagos. In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, she talks about her work, importance of mental health, parenting and more.

Can you share your growing up experience?
GROWING up was fun all the way. Imagine growing up in a house filled with wives and many children, including extended family members. With this analysis, I need not to be reminded that discipline was the only option I had and there was no alternative. I’m born a Muslim, and still a practicing Muslim. With a large household like mine, you can imagine what a child like me will learn. My dad was and still is for everyone and not for anyone. He instilled a lot of discipline in us. He made us know that despite the fact we have step-siblings, we are one. The mothers did a lot of nurturing, encouragement, ensuring the family values and our belief systems were intact. As a mother and wife now, I praise my mom every second I get. I wondered how she coped with other wives and having nine of us. I love her till death, likewise my dad. I’m proud to have them as my parents and role models. Some of my childhood experiences have made me shine like a star. Trust me, not all polygamous homes are bad, I can say mine is one of the best ever. I’m so grateful to all those that helped in shaping my future as of today.

What led to the setting up your own company?
I chose this line of business because it is my area of professional training and practice and for the passion I have for mental health. Also, there is a serious need for this business because the industry is currently under-served, and the ability to generate employment for others and myself with the goal to create financial freedom.

Pinnacle Medical Services Limited was registered with CAC in May, 2011. We started operation fully in 2012 after my six years of training programme with Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba. As an entrepreneur, I knew for me to succeed in whatever I have passion for, I needed to equip myself with the relevant expertise from all areas. After a successful completion of my programme as a Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist, the next bold and very important success key factor was to train as a business owner. This led me to Enterprise Development Center, Pan Atlantic University where I was awarded as one of the Goldman Sachs Scholar in Entrepreneurial management. When they say businesses fail within the first five years of existence, Pinnacle is already sitting on a solid foundation from inception. We have won a government grant, several awards, have our systems in place, have experienced staff with required skills, among other good things. Though as a business, we still have the ups and downs, but we are grateful for the impact the organization has made within this short time.

Expatiate more on the functions of your organisation
Pinnacle Medical Services Limited is a health and wellness center dealing on psychological, mental, emotional and behavioural health related problems. We offer consultancy services cutting across diverse aspects of psychological, behavioural, emotional and mental health related issues. Pinnacle has its CSR, which involves our various seminars, workshops, trainings in schools, corporate organizations, churches and mosques, among others. We hope to be the leading voice for mental health in Nigeria and beyond.

What were the initial challenges?
People are not encouraged to seek help for mental health related illnesses; the high rate of quackery in the society; no culture in place to seek help on time for stress related and mental illnesses. When people seek help, they do not want to pay for the services rendered to them and religious views of the members of the society are also part of the challenges. The issue of discrimination and stigma of people living with some health problems cannot be overemphasized. I’m still a work in progress.

What success stories have you recorded so far?
Ability to create and secure jobs. Ability to be one of the pioneers in a grey area (mental health facility) of medical practice in Nigeria, to develop new services and revamp new products, to expand and broaden my network and the ability to establish the first state of the art specialist center on psychological and mental health well-being in Nigeria.

Can you share your most memorable moments?
So many…. from the delivery days of my three lovely children despite my nine months of staying in the hospital all during the three pregnancies (please, don’t ask why I went back after experiencing so much pain), to seeing my patients that were once vagrant psychotics on the streets (roaming the streets), addicted to drugs now living productive and fruitful lives, to being recognized for our work locally and internationally, winning monetary awards (grants) among others.

What’s your take on women empowerment?
Women empowerment is very key to any economy. It’s not only about gender equality, feminism, etc. It’s about having happy women that will be more emotionally balanced to nurture healthier and saner children for a more productive society. Did you know one of the vulnerability factors to having depression as a woman is when you are unemployed? Investing in women help to improve the world is very paramount.

What else do you do aside owning a Pinnacle Medical Services?
Aside Pinnacle Medical Services, I run the following enterprises. Pinnacle Health Radio, this is the African’s first online health radio which is for delivering real time health solutions to our end-users. This is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goal Number 3, which talks about good health and wellbeing. Pinnacle Training Hub is a training center for various psychological and mental health workplace issues. We help to put various corporations on a more productive and safety scale from preventive to treatment of emotional issues that affect the employers and their employees. Pinnacle Medicals Speakout Initiative is geared towards creating awareness on psychological and mental health related problems in Nigeria and beyond. We have been to various schools to speak on a variety of emotional and psychological issues. We also organize seminars and workshops on a monthly basis at our facility including a lot of pro bono health talks to various organizations, too many to mention.

During our rally some years ago at the University of Lagos, we found out that 2 of their students had committed suicide and one was currently on admission after attempting to take his life. Suicide is no longer an “Oyibo problem”, it’s high time we realize the challenges are increasing and some people can’t cope with them. If you have a psychological problem, deal with it, rather than trying to bind and cast it away. It will be my joy when Nigerians will come to the realization that mental health is our health, not a separate entity. When not working as a Physician, Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist, I love to tour the world and talk fashion.

Discipline is lacking in today’s children upbringing, what do you think is the cause?
Discipline begins from the homes, which are the primary units for every child. This is not a role that can be substituted or contracted to others. Even the excuse of career life shouldn’t be an excuse to having undisciplined children. I have quite a number of families substituting presence for presents. They spoil the children with gifts rather than the quality time they desire and deserve, it is their right. Parents have to sit up to their responsibilities and schools shouldn’t condone such children due to monetary benefits.

How can this be tackled?
Parents, teachers and every member of the society have our various roles to play in tackling this societal scourge. Like I said earlier, parents just have to sit up to their responsibilities. It is cheaper, better and happier to nurture a healthy disciplined child than repairing a damaged adult.

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