Mental Health Crisis in Nigeria: A Call for Urgent Action

By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter



FRIDAY, APRIL 05, 2024. In Nigeria, the rising cases of mental illness have been attributed to poor government attention, harsh economic conditions and negative societal beliefs. Dr. Azubuike Aliche, the President of the Nigerian American Institute for Mental Health has sounded the alarm highlighting the dire situation.


During a press briefing in Umuahia, Dr. Aliche expressed deep concern about the stigmatization and mistreatment faced by individuals with mental health challenges in the country. He lamented that the government's focus on physical health has left mental healthcare severely underfunded and underdeveloped.


"The infrastructure for mental health care is lacking and the government is doing little about it. Politicians don't include mental health issues in their campaigns and actions," Dr. Aliche said.


With only around 250 psychiatrists attending to 10-20% of the population suffering from mental health issues, the situation is dire. Dr. Aliche emphasized the need for urgent action to address this crisis, stating, "The Nigerian American Institute for Mental Health is set to change the terrible condition of mental health patients and the mental health sector in general."


The institute plans to partner with the Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Enugu and other relevant bodies to promote sound mental health in the country. By involving trained community healthcare workers to identify individuals with mental health issues and refer them to psychiatrists, the institute aims to improve access to much-needed services.


However, the stigma attached to mental health in the Nigerian society remains a significant obstacle. Dr. Aliche observed that many Nigerians are afraid and ashamed to seek voluntary mental health diagnosis due to the societal stigma.


As the mental health crisis in Nigeria continues to escalate, the call for action has never been more urgent. The government, healthcare professionals and the public must come together to destigmatize mental health, increase funding for mental healthcare and ensure that every Nigerian has access to the support and resources they need.





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Published: April 5, 2024

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