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The MHM Magazine is a UK based digital/print magazine – a product of MHM based in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. It represents a brand dedicated to promoting Mental Health
awareness and education In this edition, we feature an exciting interview session with Sarah Téibo – A multi-award winning music artist who is also passionate about mental health.
We hope you will take something home from this interview with her enjoy! We are very glad to have you. We hope this interview will bring you closer to our audience through some of the candid moments you will be sharing with us.
Can you say a little about who Sarah Teibo is?
I’m a married mom of 2 beautiful girls, I’m an accountant by day and a Gospel singer by night (more like at the weekends). I am very passionate about music and I am a terrible
workaholic as well as a lover of shoes.
At the MHM one of our goals is to influence Mental Health discourse in a very positive way thereby contributing our quota to the destigmatization of Mental Health issues, which is probably why this interview might be a little bit different from what you are used to.
Mental Health issue has a global dimension to it; the statistics spare no one- race, religion,
nationality, colour or otherwise.
I mean, it is the second cause of disability worldwide. Many lives and destinies are at the mercy of this scourge.
If I may ask you have you had any Mental Health challenge at any point in your life? If your response is affirmative, my second question would be, at what point did you discover you needed help?
Like most people, I have had several experiences in my life which have resulted in challenges to my mental health. Much like our physical health, if there is an imbalance in our system, there could be a break down – in the visible physical body, this could manifest as a fever or a virus, however with our not so visible mental state, this sometimes goes unnoticed for what it truly is, and as such go undiagnosed and untreated until it escalates.
The most pivotal experience for me would be the time when I suffered from two consecutive miscarriages in the first trimester of pregnancy.
The helpless feeling of my unborn child leaving my body whilst I was on stage, mic in hand
leading praise and worship was one that I would never want to relive. The pain from my
reproductive organs surged all the way to my chest, leaving a gaping hole. There was a lot of physical pain, but the emotional trauma was even more. It was hard for me – especially as a Christian – because we never prepare for, or anticipate loss, so the ability to manage loss was alien to me. I was depressed, inconsolable and in despair. I cried often and what is worse, I masked the reality of the pain I was suffering when around other Christians. How dare I not be ‘joyful in the Lord’?! That is what is expected after all. In hindsight, I think one of the biggest challenges of Christians who suffer from any mental health challenge is the ability to open up to other Christians. We don’t want to be perceived as weak or of ‘little faith’, so we ‘fake it’.
I, however, found help in a number of things, one of them is listening to music. Though I often cried through listening to the music, it did take the weight off my chest and the words in the songs reminded me to trust in the Lord and He will make a way. The other thing that helped me was reading about other people’s stories of overcoming the grief and depression that come with miscarriages and loss. Being able to read about other people’s vulnerability and how they came out of their own dark phases reassured me that I could also get through it. Finally, opening up to and sharing my grief with a few friends who had experienced miscarriages, made me know I was not alone and helped me on my journey to recovery.
As said earlier, Mental Health issues spares no one including religion: a constituency
you represent so well via your music career. The Church has shied away from this discourse for too long. People think mental health Issue has no place in the Church; recently a well-known pastor committed suicide (amongst others that have happened in recent time).
Despite the spate of news all across the world of top religious leaders or members of theirfamilies who took their lives, the Church still has not taken the prominent role…why do you think that is?
Having grown up in church, I have seen quite a few things in my time where it comes to health and well-being and I have made a number of observations. The first is that there
is the expectation that everything is perfect in a Christian’s life, so sometimes, when things are not looking all in line – say a couple gets divorced, a young man has a nervous
breakdown, or a lady is diagnosed with Cancer – we struggle to accept it. We struggle because we do not expect it. We do not expect it because our faith encourages us to only believe for the best things in life. Whilst this is not all bad, it is an absolute conundrum and is one of the main reasons why we do not cope well with addressing or managing mental health issues in the church – we simply do not expect it.
This leads onto my second observation – we do not prepare for it, so when it does materialise we are not quite sure how to handle it. You only prepare for an eventuality if you expect it. Quite self explanatory if you ask me. And my final observation as to why the church does not seem to handle mental health issues well in many cases is because of stigmatisation. What this often leads to, is people not opening up about how they truly feel because they are afraid of how they would be perceived. ‘What will they say if I tell them I’ve been diagnosed as depressed or I’m bipolar?’ There are without a doubt, a number of churches that have support systems for mental health issues and do not stigmatise fellow brethren who may be struggling, but there needs to be way more. We need better support systems – especially for ministers who bear so many on their shoulders, yet must always look strong and happy even though they may be broken inside.
What role are you playing or intend to play as a singer or as a Christian music ambassador to stem this menace to society?
As a Christian and Gospel singer, one of my mandates is not just to write music that
extols God, but also to release ‘Life Music’ – songs that people can listen to and find
encouragement and inspiration from on their daily journey through life. I believe that just as music saw me through my darkest days, my music could also do the same for someone
else. On both my albums – ‘Walk with Me’ released in 2016 and ‘Keep Walking’ released in 2018 – I have shared stories of struggling with forgiveness, rejection, loss, and disappointment, as well celebrate the goodness and blessing of God. What this does is help people – especially alone in whatever they may be experiencing and also find light and joy in God’s promises which are echoed in the songs.
Lets now come home; I am gonna be a bit personal cos the discourse start with you and
me as small unit of the bigger picture. One of the hallmarks that defines your personality is your taste for excellence in all that you do. And of course the quest towards ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE REQUIRES A LOT, how do you avoid getting burn out; how do you balance and maintain a good emotional Wellbeing?
In addition to being a married mum of two, I’m a certified accountant and project
manager as well as a business owner, author, praise and worship leader and recording artist. Somehow I manage to sandwich my 9-5 in between school runs and then when the kids are asleep, I catch up on ‘stuff’. I manage to juggle it all by trying to stay organised and planning things ahead. I try to delegate where I can, so, for instance, I might
order in a take-out meal if I’ve been too busy to cook. That is one way I avoid burn-out. Typically I go to bed around midnight, but my ever supportive husband makes sure I take time to rest. He’s the best! Also, to maintain a good mental wellbeing I love watching comedy. My kids know that when I finally get hold of the remote, I would be catching up on reruns of ‘Friends’ or ‘Big Bang Theory.
Mental Health has always been shrouded in stigma. In your own words, why is mental health so stigmatised? What can be done?
The stigmatisation of mental health in my opinion is largely due to differing cultural
views and perceptions. I personally feel that people with a western or European background tend not to stigmatise those struggling with Mental health issues as much as say, those with an African background – this is just my personal opinion, being of African and Nigerian heritage myself. In Nigeria, some tribes have been known to quiz prospective marriage suitors with such questions as ‘does madness run in your family?’! I think there is a place for education within the community and the church. We need to see more open forums where people come in and talk about the various mental health challenges out there, how they can be identified and more importantly, how those struggling with them can be supported on an ongoing basis.
Random question! What is your weirdest fear?
My weirdest fear would have to be the fear of falling off a cliff!
Do you have any plan to, in the nearest future release a song with Mental Health related content?
My very first single released in 2015 – ‘Steal my Joy’ – addresses mental health; the
main message in the song being that we do not allow situations we cannot control (eg delayed trains first thing on a Monday morning), control us and our emotions but instead, to choose joy. I plan to continue to release music which touches on the subject of mental health in the coming years.
Social media and public engagement with it is absolutely over the top. Its impact has its
own significant share in the statistics. How do you manage this aspect of your career given the fact that Social media is an important component that enhances the success of your
In terms of social media, it has become a very important part of our society and
community and I fear it is something we may never be able to make go away! I recently found that I spend a significant amount of time on Instagram (@sarahteibomusic, cheeky plug lol!) compared to previous months and the truth is, it’s not a very healthy habit. So what I have now decided to do is to spend only 20 minutes a day on Instagram and nothing more. It’s taking a lot of discipline, but it is absolutely worth it.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
My bucket list is very long and one of the things on it is Bungee jumping. For the rest
of the year, I will continue promoting my new album ‘Keep Walking’, touring the country as
well as abroad – Cyprus and Nigeria. I also plan to begin work on a few projects for next year – one of which would be the release of the live recording of ‘Keep Walking’.
Thank you very much for your time Sarah, wishing you all the best in your life and ministry.