Provision of mental health facilities in Nigeria
In Nigeria, as in most developing countries of the world, despite advances in the understanding of its causes, course and treatment, schizophrenia continues to have a huge negative impact on the lives of those with the condition. Persons living with schizophrenia are erroneously believed to be possessed by demons, are feared, flogged, chained, disowned or locked up in prisons, even though schizophrenia like most mental illnesses is treatable.
Though faced with great challenges of inadequate human and financial resources, with less than 200 psychiatrists, less than 5000 Psychiatric nurses and very few Psychologists and Social workers for a population of 170 million people, some significant marks are being made in using the available resources to adequately manage and reintegrate persons with schizophrenia into the community.
Together with local partners, CBM has
- Been able to integrate mental health into primary health care in Benue, Abia, Anambra, Imo and Ebonyi states with a combined population of over 20 million persons.
- Created awareness on mental illness through Village Health Workers and government structures in 4 of the 5 states in the South Eastern Nigeria.
- Trained mental health advocates and leaders to lead the process of change in mental health in Nigeria and 4 other Anglophone West African countries of Ghana, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia.
- Formed Self Help Groups comprising persons with psychosocial disability and their careers for peer support and advocacy.
- Established a National Mental Health Stake Holders Council in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.
- Trained and retrained primary health care workers to be able to provide up to date services in mental health,
- Provided quality and affordable drugs in the community
- Trained mental health nurses and
- Provided referral support from mental health professionals.
CBM was also involved in the drafting of the recently adopted mental health policy, and the mental health bill currently being considered for passage by the national assembly. These are exciting times for scaling up mental health services in Nigeria!