About mental health in Nigeria

One in four people around the world will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. Those affected can face isolation, exclusion from work and family life, increased poverty, high healthcare costs and abuses of their human rights. 

Nigeria was one of the five pilot countries for the Time to Change Global programme. We worked in partnership to run a pilot campaign to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

In Nigeria there are a lot of things that make it hard to talk about mental health problems. We simply don’t have these discussions. Our society isn’t structured in a way that accepts you talking about mental health. [Tinom]

In Nigeria, it is estimated that around 30% of the population have a mental health condition. Mental health services are not readily available to the public and according to WHO data, people pay, mostly or entirely out of pocket for services and medicines. 

Read more about mental health provision in Nigeria in the World Health Organisation Mental Health ATLAS.

Focus group research carried out in Abuja by Consumer Insights Consult Africa on behalf of Time to Change Global showed high levels of stigma are entrenched in society. The research revealed low knowledge and understanding of mental health in Nigeria, with mental health problems being strongly associated with violence, superstition and ‘madness’ or ‘insanity’. 

Read the full research report from Consumer Insights Consult along with recommendations on how to reduce stigma and build empathy towards people with mental health problems (PPT).

About our partner in Nigeria

Gede Foundation believe all members of all societies have the right to good health. That’s why they work with those who suffer from underserved and stigmatized health burdens to achieve long term positive change. 

In 2013, after focusing on HIV-AIDS for more than ten years, GEDE Foundation expanded their work to explore links between HIV-AIDS and mental illness, as well as broader mental health challenges facing Nigerian society. 

Alongside our partner CBM, we worked with GEDE Foundation to co-develop, test, deliver and evaluate a pilot anti-stigma campaign in and around the Nigerian capital city, Abuja. 

At the heart of our partnership with the GEDE Foundation is a shared desire to break down taboos, promote awareness about mental health issues and reduce stigma and discrimination. 

We need to improve mental health awareness. Through this, I hope people can be more accepting of mental disorders and mental illness. The more we talk about it, the more we can reduce the stigma. [Tinom]

Find out more about GEDE Foundation on their website.