Problem: Mental health has been a largely neglected area in the health care system globally (WHO, 2013). The availability of mental health resources in most developing countries is poor due to scarcity of resources, and priority given to mental health issues. In Nigeria, people have no access to good mental health services for various reasons.
Purpose: The purpose of this presentation is to identify the gaps and strategies to address these gaps. To create awareness on mental health issue in Nigeria, describe the misconceptions associated, emphasize the need for mental health and well-being in Nigeria, and to encourage the integration of good mental health policy in Nigerian health care system.
Background: Nigeria with a population of over 175 million has about 150 psychiatrists (Oshodi, 2010). About 64 million Nigerians are deemed to suffer from one form of mental illness or the other (Owoyemi, 2013). Mental health and mental hospital expenditures by the government health departments/ministry are minimally available. Traditional and spiritual healers have become the primary re-sources and healing places for mental health care in Nigeria.
Methods, Results, and Outcomes: Comprehensive literature review and observations were used for this presentation. Literature search was done using CINAHL, PubMed, ProQuest and PsychINFO, databases. Selection criteria included articles written by Nigerian authors related to mental health /well-being in Nigeria. Articles were appraised and analyzed which demonstrated lack of mental health policy, inadequate trained / qualified mental health professionals, and misconceptions about mental illness. Other barriers included lack of financial and social support, fear of stigmatization, and consultation of traditional native healers for treatment, poor access to care, and cultural beliefs / values (Aghukwu, 2012, Gordon, 2013).
Summary and Discussion: There is critical need for policy change and advocacy for mental health in Nigeria. Existing policies are yet to be implemented making structure for mental health system inadequate. Advocacy and treatment for mental illness is severely impacted due to fear of stigmatization. Everyone needs mental health / well-being, seeking mental health services should not be viewed as a taboo. Nigerian policy makers should recognize the immediate and long-term impacts of mental health policy on the affected. NGOs such as Global Mental Health Awareness Organization (GMHAO), NANNNA, etc., should be encouraged to help create awareness and provide capacity building to stakeholders.
Audience Take Away:
- Participant would recognize mental issue as a global issue. The presentation would help to create awareness and knowledge of mental disorder as extremely low in Nigeria, making it difficult for patients to access adequate and prompt medical attention.
- Participants would understand and appreciate the lack of health facilities, inadequate skilled mental health practitioners, low socio-economic status and poor health seeking behavior that further reduces the number of patients getting proper mental health care in Nigeria.
- Participants would expand their knowledge and teaching by increasing their cultural awareness in addressing mental issues among Nigerians and globally.