Friday, 11 October 2019

Nigeria's new approach to mental illness -

People, get better: Nigeria's New Approach to Mental Illness

With 200 million inhabitants but only 150 psychologists working in the field of mental health, Nigeria needed a new idea. Then Victor Ugo started something

It was a very unusual request. Dr. Ayo Ajeigbe received the patient in his private office in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, in his usual home.

But it turned out that there was nothing wrong with the man. And when Ajeigbe asked why he was there, he simply said, "I just wanted to see what a psychologist looked like."

Maybe I should not have been surprised. Mental health professionals are rare in Nigeria, as in many other developing countries. In the most populous nation in Africa, with more than 200 million people, the number of practicing psychologists is estimated at 150.

While mental health treatment is irregular, inadequate and lacks sufficient funds in most Western countries, it is almost non-existent in most low- and middle-income countries, with more than 100 countries in the world. world. Here, provisions for mental health are the last-minute idea of ​​health budgets with few resources that, in any case, may be rare.

So what should you do? Ajeigbe decided that there was a partial response in the voluntary sector. A year ago, he agreed to head the Abuja chapter of the Mentally Aware Nigeria (Mani) Initiative, a thriving, user-driven organization that quickly emerged as a multiple solution to Nigeria's mental health crisis.

Mani was launched in 2016 by Victor Ugo, a Lagos medical student who was suffering from depression, in response to the lack of mental health support in Nigeria, where about 7 million people have the same illness.

Ugo's vision was to drive change by creating awareness and dispelling the stigma around mental health issues in Nigeria.

If he suffers from depression, "says Latifah Yusuf Ojomo, deputy director of the Mani team in Lagos," people can drive him crazy, which means that most people who have mental health problems in Nigeria do not do not understand or do not want to accept what they are. to feel. "

From the beginning, Ugo decided that if Mani had a significant impact, he should focus his attention on the country's most populous population. "Young people [in Nigeria] are much more open to learning new things," says Ugo, "they are much more focused on ways to change."

Mani needed an "important factor", which Ugo lacked in the area of ​​mental health: "Symposia, that's all that's happening with mental health in Nigeria, more and more symposia, people were giving a talk that we need to raise awareness, but nothing happened. "

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