Clinical depression, anxiety disorders, PSTD from sexual assault and other forms of abuse – are all classified as mental disorders that one should never have to endure or conquer alone.
The treatment of mental health and other conditions in Nigeria is underfunded to say the least, forcing sufferers to seek costly private treatment. According to World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS) (2006), about 3% of the health budget goes to the stand-alone neuropsychiatric facilities. In the likely event that one cannot afford such treatment, they are forced to suffer in silence.
It is important to know that you should never be alone in these circumstances. There are resources to help educate the public on mental health and aid in the event of numerous crises. Consider the following when in the need of support.
1. Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF) Women at Risk International Foundation, (WARIF) is a non-profit organization founded in 2016 in response to the high incidence of sexual assault, rape and human trafficking occurring amongst young girls and women across Nigeria.
2. Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) DSVRT is a collection of professional service providers and officials that respond as a group and in a timely fashion to the various needs of domestic and sexual violence survivors by providing legal, medical, emergency assistance, Counselling and psychological and psycho social support. It is to encourage and create unprecedented level of collaboration among professionals working to end sexual and Gender Based Violence.
3. Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (Mani) This is Lagos-based nonprofit started in 2016 focuses on creating awareness on mental health and illnesses as well as helping its clients connect to mental health professionals. MANI has suicide/distress hotlines and recently launched a website called Project Covid to help people cope with anxiety amongst other mental health matters during the pandemic.
4. The Cece Yara Foundation: The Cece Yara Foundation is a child-centered non-profit organization established in 2016 to prevent child sexual abuse and to provide access to care, information, protection and emergency intervention for children who have experienced sexual abuse or who are at risk. The foundation provides a 24-hour toll-free helpline for any Nigerian child to report abuse and receive counseling. The foundation rescues children from their abusers, provides post-trauma counseling and if needed medical care, education and legal support.
5. Neem Foundation: The foundation helps those who have suffered trauma as a result of attacks by the Boko Haram islamic militant group. In 2017 alone, the organization provided psychological services to over 7000 people in Borno. In order to reach their target of getting to 16,000 more clients by 2019, the foundation began a Counseling on Wheels program which has counselors use motorcycles or motor tricycles to take counseling services to people’s doorsteps. By doing this, they have managed to raise the number of their client reach 12,000 people so far. Besides providing mental health support to individuals, the Neem Foundation also offers training in counseling, trauma care and child-centered therapy.
6. She Writes Woman: The organization launched the first privately-held, 24-hour mental health line in July 2016 and in April 2018 added a helpline chat service. The organization also founded and curates Safe Place – a support group where women in Nigeria can meet, discuss mental health issues and get the help they need. So far, more than 800 women have benefitted.
7. Love, Peace and Mental Health Foundation: Launched in 2012 in Lagos, LPM carries out advocacy and awareness campaigns to the youth in Nigeria. LPM also founded and curates Umbrella, a men’s-only support group which meets monthly. During the support group meetings, mental health professionals are on hand for observation and consultancy. The foundation also partners with various psychologists and consultants to provide free therapy sessions during these meetings.