How Can Individuals Help Break the Cycle of the Negative Stigma Surrounding Mental Health in Nigeria?

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Overview

Hello everyone, thank you for taking the time to visit my page! This semester I enrolled in the Abnormal Psychology Course, due to the fact that I was very intrigued and fascinated by the topics that we were going to be covering. 

Abnormal psychology is a field of study that refers to a-typical thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. These are usually categorized as various mental health conditions, which are usually viewed and dealt with through a clinical aspect. Please read this article  for further, more in-depth explanation of the subject.

Mental health is becoming an increasingly more severe issue in our society, which is why it is extremely important to have some sort of knowledge regarding general topics in this vicinity.

 

This is a photo from a psychiatric hospital in Nigeria. It can be seen that the patient is chained to a some sort of block. This would be considered to be maltreatment by many countries, especially in Western culture, however this is the sad reality of how mental health patients are treated in Nigeria.

Our Project: Mental Health in Nigeria

Creating a CAS project is a requirement for the International Baccalaureate program, as a result, my friend and I had the lovely idea of creating a mental health club for our project.

We both feel strongly towards the topic of mental health due to the fact that we feel as though it is a major issue in our society. In Nigeria, there is a toxic and negative stigma associated with mental health and receiving help in order to treat an individual’s condition. Through our project, we plan to gradually help our community tear down the stigma surrounding mental health in Nigeria and instead be able to overtly express how they are feeling, be educated on various mental health conditions, and be progressively more open to diversified forms of treatment.

After conducting various interviews with multiple psychologists and psychiatrists, I was told on multiple occasions that the religion is the main contributor to the stigma surrounding mental health in Nigeria. People often avoid seeking help, due to a lack of education surrounding the idea of treatment as well as the fact that seeking help is quite abnormal in Nigerian society. I was told that some people look at conditions like depression and schizophrenia as “death sentences”, and something you cannot overcome. This would be an example of lack of education regarding the topic of mental health, due to the fact that many people are either not aware of or not open to the idea of treatment. In many families the idea of receiving treatment, or even acknowledging the fact that someone has a mental health condition is often looked down upon, as well as discouraged and disregarded. 

Another issue surrounding mental health in Nigeria, is the lack of resources available to those in need of them. According to Devex, one in four individuals fall victim to having a mental health condition in Nigeria. However there are only 250 psychiatrists in the country, to serve a growing population of over  200 million people. This is quite honestly, downright absurd, and with Covid-19 Pandemic increasing the amount of people who suffer from depression and anxiety, there is a growing need for there to be more resources available to the population, in order to combat the issue of poor mental health. Hopefully through our project, Deborah and I can promote the idea of studying psychology, in order to increase the amount of people going into the field or that find themselves to be interested in the topic. To read more about the lack of resources available to the citizens of Nigeria, click here. 

We will also do our best to help psychiatric hospitals, step away from the traditional practices and treatment towards the patients, in order to provide a safe, healthy, and positive environment for those who seek help. To learn more about the reform of mental health laws in nigeria click here, to read this article written by The Lancet Global Health. 

Our Plan

Considering that it would be relatively difficult to have the whole of Lagos engage in our plan, we have decided to first educate the newcomers of our club, in order for them to thoroughly and accurately understand and present the information. Deborah and I have gathered many notes, sources, and bright ideas/arguments over the last few months which we will then get approved by someone at our school who is cleared to information related to psychology.

From there, we will then progressively move toward potentially holding high school assemblies, along with various other events, discussions, and lessons. Most importantly, we plan to hold events, discussions, and lessons for children in local schools as well. Although the topic can be quite taboo, espically in Eastern cultures, talking about mental health crucial, due to the fact that it has many benefits, and actually help numerous individuals. Discussing the topic of mental health intern, evidently helps to spread awareness, promotes treament, descreases suicide rates, and overall educates people on the topic. To read more about why learning and having conversations regarding mental health is important please click here

My friend, Deborah, and I who are starting the club together, are extremely privileged, and well-versed on diversifying topics, which now include abnormal psychology. We are able to acknowledge how lucky we truly are, as we are consistently presented with chances to build on our foundational knowledge with our topics of interest.

It is quite evident that it would be strikingly challenging to attempt to change older people’s minds regarding the topic of mental health and further treatment, however if we can get to them early, we can change the younger people’s minds. By visiting local schools, we can help instill in their minds, that poor mental health, or having a mental health condition is not something to suppress and be ashamed of, but rather share with others that you trust, in order to receive the best treatment/care for you possible! Through constantly reminding the younger people of this concept and ideal, I think that we can gradually begin to finally start tearing down the stigma surrounding mental health. We hope we are able to acquire help from organizations such as Mental Health Foundation Nigeria, and Oasis of Love International Center for Women and Children, in order for them to guide us through our journey, as well provide us with opportunities to work with new communities. Deborah and I can also help find ways to raise money for their NGOs, in an attempt to find other ways to give back to our community, and assist those who are making an effort to invoke necessary change in Nigeria. 

Something that I will have to be mindful of, is the way I approach mental health as a whole. I have grown up with more Western ideals when it comes to this topic, however I do need to respect and acknowledge how Nigeria approaches mental health. I will need to ensure that I find an even medium between the two, and can creatively incorporate aspects of both approaches into my teaching. 

To help clarify/visualize our plan, here is a brief summary of our steps

  1. Deborah and I will strategically plan out the topics/mental health conditions that we would like to cover. We will then verify with our counselor what we are permitted to teach, and what lessons they will have to assist us with.  
  2. We will recruit members who are interested in joining our club, and take the time to educate them using all the information we’ve learned, so that they are prepared to speak at assemblies, and educate the kids at the schools we plan to visit
  3. We will make plans to hold assemblies for our school where we will have important discussions regarding the importance of mental health, teach them about various conditions, teach them about other things related to conditions such as symptoms and treatment
  4. We will raise money for the organizations that we plan to work with, we will work closely with these organizations, as well as visit local schools in an attempt to educate them regarding the topic of mental health in general; help them break the stigma surrounding mental health 
  5. Possibly visit psychiatric hospitals in order to observe the activity that occurs there, as well as talk to some of the patients about their experiences and pasts. We could also promote healthy and safe behaviors amongst the staff
  6. Promote awareness! 

Deborah and I truly think, that by sharing that of which we take for granted, we will be able to better the lives of others, which is our ultimate goal. We also hope to help people in our school community that need it, as we know international living can be very stressful!

 

Hello, Thank you for viewing my project, could you please fill out this quick two minute survey?

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeL13-a4sIzIpglC5JEpS-K8OiVZN9qnianEEtHxzJsk3kFOw/viewform?usp=sf_link

 

Works cited 

 

Adepoju, Paul. “Short Of Mental Health Professionals, Nigeria Tries A New Approach”. Devex, 2021, https://www.devex.com/news/short-of-mental-health-professionals-nigeria-tries-a-new-approach-98176#:~:text=One%20in%204%20Nigerians%20suffer,of%20over%20200%20million%20people.

 

“How Psychologists Define And Study Abnormal Behavior”. Verywell Mind, 2021, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-abnormal-psychology-2794775.

 

“Impact Of Covid-19 On Children’S Education In Africa”. Human Rights Watch, 2021, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/08/26/impact-covid-19-childrens-education-africa.



“List Of Psychiatric Hospitals In Nigeria”. Nigeria Schools Blog, 2021, https://nigeriaschoolsblog.com/list-of-psychiatric-hospitals-in-nigeria/.

 

“MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION NIGERIA”. Mental Health Innovation Network, 2021, https://www.mhinnovation.net/organisations/mental-health-foundation-nigeria.

 

Oasislovecenter.Org, 2021, https://www.oasislovecenter.org/who-we-are.

 

Resourcing, Energy. “Mental Health And Wellness Tips During COVID-19 | Energy Resourcing”. Energy Resourcing, 2021, https://energyresourcing.com/blog/mental-health-wellness-covid-19/.

 

 “Tackling Rising Cases Of Mental Disorder”. The Sun Nigeria, 2021, https://www.sunnewsonline.com/tackling-rising-cases-of-mental-disorder/.



“The Importance Of Talking About Mental Health | Banyan Mental Health”. Mental Health Program At Banyan Treatment Centers, 2021, https://www.banyanmentalhealth.com/2018/08/01/why-talking-about-mental-health-is-so-important/.

 

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X%2820%2930302-8/fulltext




6 Comments

6 comments

  1. Hey, what an awesome project! Reading through your page, I have learned so much about what the climate surrounding mental health care is like in Nigeria, and I’m so inspired by how you guys are looking to make big, true changes in your community. I really liked how you consider the cultural reasons for the attitude towards mental health, as when I first watched your intro video I thought to myself about the Crazy Like Us book we read and how important it is to consider a local culture when trying to ‘educate’ people on mental illness. Great job! 🙂

    1. Thank you Samantha!

      I really appreciate you taking the time to visit my page! Being from the US, it’s going to be a challenge to not let my upbringing and ideals surrounding psychology influence my teaching too much, and create a strong non considerate bias! I am very excited for this project and hope I can truly make a difference!

  2. Hey Idia!
    I really enjoyed reading through your project. your topic is a very important one and I feel as if you both described it as well as showed how to help fight the stigma mental health has. I liked how your project was directed at one part of the world, and that one part being Nigeria. I think that there is a lot of changing that needs to be done in the mental health field but I think we are currently taking steps in the right direction

    1. Hey Issac,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my page! I really appreciate it! Yes there is a lot of work to be done here, even in my international school community, it will be a challenge but I know we can do it! I truly hope I can make a difference, and I will try my best to educate who I can!

  3. Hey Samantha!

    I really appreciate you taking the time to visit my page! Being from the US, it’s going to be a challenge to not let my upbringing and ideals surrounding psychology influence my teaching too much, and create a strong non considerate bias! I am very excited for this project and hope I can truly make a difference!

  4. Hi Idia! This is a great project you clearly did a great job! I know we spoke a little bit about what the stigmas around mental health are in Nigeria during class however your in-depth presentation of it is really eye opening. I also think the for now you have is a great start. Hopefully, the members of your club will be inclined to speak about what they are learning to folks at home and then you’ll be able to reach more people that way!

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