Mental Health In Nigeria 

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this topic, this blog post is written based on my personal interactions and observations. This post could be right or wrong but it is still my opinion. 

I won’t start off this post stating statistics about Nigeria because I know it would all be wrong. I mean the last census was in 2006(know how many death and births since then?Neither do I) 

Using my class as a case study-the other day in my gastrointestinal pharmacology class, we were told that H2 receptor antagonists have adverse effects which may include mental health disturbance. People started laughing and talking like any of the illnesses had a secret joke attached to its name. Someone even went as far as saying out loud “all this things na Oyibo man sickness, ie “all of them are a white man’s sickness and then there was more laughter and cheering. I sat observing them, wishing I could say something to rid them of such ignorance. I wanted to scream “how can you not see that the things you laugh about and more is everywhere around you?”(but I didn’t because I get so shaky whenever I have to speak in class,thank you anxiety). The lecturer watched them for awhile too before speaking, she said “it’s sad to see how some of you are talking about this as if it’s not a problem here too. Depression,anxiety,schizophrenia, it’s all real and even some of the people closest to you are experiencing this but you don’t notice anything ” and with that, the entire class quieted down and we moved on to proton pump inhibitors. 

In Nigeria, we tend to blame everything on evil spirits and the devil(thank you Nollywood). What is schizophrenia when there are evil spirits that makes a person hear voices other people cannot? Like its easier to believe a person is possessed and controlled by an evil spirit than to believe they are depressed and cut themselves as a way to cope. Seek medical help for a demon T.B Joshua can remove? No way. 

In Nigeria, people still believe mental illnesses only affects the white man due to ignorance and inadequate information. Still using my anatomy classes as the example,when we learn forensic science the slide show used are usually from other countries with no practical examples from Nigeria and so as the lecturers talk, people are listening to write notes to read for exams. What alot of people know about mental health issues are mostly through movies/tv series which may not have an accurate representation and pass complete information about that particular disorder.

In Nigeria, we act only after tragedy happens. Take the Lagos flood for example, the people living in the areas affected and the government knew that the poor drainage system plus several other factors could eventually lead to a flood but no one acted. Now after this flood, a hashtag on twitter and possibly been shown on CNN, everyone would want to do something.

What we can do to change this

  1. Educate yourself about mental health issues. 
  2. Educate others(starting with the people around you)about mental health issues. 
  3. Be more observant and you’d see there are a lot of people suffering around you. I know just talking with a person about their struggles won’t alleviate the problem but it can make them feel less alone.
  4. Stop telling people to pray their depression(or any other illness) away. Sometimes people need more than your prayers. 

Just because there aren’t any clinics or treatment centers in Nigeria, it doesn’t mean you can’t seek help for whatever you’re going through.Try b-eat for help with eating disorders, breakthrough,iprevail and 7cups for other mental illnesses. 

I hope you get the help you deserve. 

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2 thoughts on “Mental Health In Nigeria 

  1. Thank you so much for this! I really hope for a tomorrow where we (this generation) really realize that we have been carrying a lot of baggage in the name of custom and tradition,that has transformed and is now manifesting as plain old ignorance, sometimes stupidity and just an unwillingness to grow and learn in a world that ever so changing.

    You know, I recently had a bitter experience with my health that could well be another example and hopefully shed some light.

    I suddenly started feeling a really sharp pain in my right hip that would sometimes travel down my right thigh and back up to my lower back and just settle at my hip ( I can imagine so many of us already thinking of how this could be an attack from some evil people that don’t want me to succeed or how the devil is trying to cause harm) Don’t get me wrong though! evil spirits, charms, spiritual attacks are real but it turns out that mine was as a result of years of bad posture!

    Yes, as simple as it may seem and difficult to imagine the science behind the pain, that’s what it was. in a nutshell, my weight is not evenly distributed when I sit, stand, walk or move about. I tend to lean more to my right and I have known this for years now. What I didn’t know was that, over the years, my body was trying to make up and compliment for the bad posture and as a result the joint in my spine were becoming more fused and I was never really one to stretch so I had really lower back tight-muscles. This meant really poor movement and bad alignment in my lower back and my body got to the limit, it could not take it anymore as the nerves around there were now being pinched…hence the pain that would always travel up and down.

    It’s taken me 3 months plus now with therapy, exercise, the right mind- set to gradually get my body back to full health. I guess my point is what I took for granted were the simple lessons back in primary and secondary school on proper posture. And just to let you all know, during these 3 months, I did pray but I also did the necessary and important, take car of my body

    Liked by 1 person

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