Understanding major sources of mental health disorders in Nigeria

Category: Opinion | Posted date: 2018-11-21 07:00:25 | Updated date: 2019-02-09 10:00:08 | Posted by: Olayinka Olalekan

Share On

The belief of many is that probably drug abuse and preternatural or supernatural forces such as witches and wizards and other evil spirits have incredibly increased in the land

Understanding major sources of mental health disorders in Nigeria

Recently, the federal government of Nigeria declared that 40million of the estimated 200million population of the country was believed to be suffering from mental disorders. This declaration has triggered misconception and misinformation on the context of mental health illness among Nigerians. The belief of many is that probably drug abuse and preternatural or supernatural forces such as witches and wizards and other evil spirits have incredibly increased in the land.

Advertise with us

While we look into this issue contextually and historically, research has, however, linked corruption and other myriad of challenges of the country to the higher percentage in the figure declared by the government rather than the predicted causes of mental disorders.

The situations around Nigerians have helped many of the people suffer varying degrees of temporal or lasting mental health disorders. Economic hardship resulting in abject poverty, insecurity resulting in perpetual fear and frustration, and injustice resulting in perversion of judgment and denial of fundamental human rights of the citizenry. All these at the forefront of everyday experiences in the same country is an inevitable invitation to mental health illness.

After a wider interview with many Nigerians from their different walks of life, it was empirically discovered that the following factors are playing key roles in the causes of mental health disorders in the country:

Poverty: many Nigerians live in abject poverty or in total bankruptcy. It was revealed 75% of the working class can not eat three square meal conveniently let alone balanced diet. They do not talk or think of how to live a successful life anymore; their focus is on daily survival. If it happens so terrible like this with the working class, what would be the experience of the unemployed people and retirees in the country where retirees are not valued or recognised?

The federal government has not, in anyway, done so much good so far to improve the social well-being of the people. The people at the helm of affairs are adding salt to the wound of Nigerians by looting and embezzling the national treasury and fund meant to ameliorate the stability of life of the citizenry.

Nigerian workers’ minimum wage is less than $100 a month—the money that cannot comfortably cater for the needs of a single worker for 10 days, let alone those married workers with 2 to 3 kids as prices of goods and commodities are on the skyrocket in the market. The most painful aspect of the bitter story is that many states are owning their workers the peanut salaries for several months.

When one is financially incapable to get necessary needs met, a few hours in thinking without solution may result in destabilisation of the brain—the foundation of aggression and frustration both of which have power to trigger chronic mental disorders.

Insecurity: What else can be more threatening than insecurity? Insurgency and massive loss of lives daily in the North, kidnapping and militancy in South East and ritual kidnapping and killing the South West of the same country.

We read daily on the pages of newspapers the successes of Nigeria troops over Insurgency, but witness physically how the dead bodies of the troop members are being brought home for burial even without rewards. People are incessantly missing on transit. Boarding vehicles from designated National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) park is no more safe which implies that no fraction of the Nigeria sphere is safe for ordinary people.

Ad 1

The victims of insecurity can hardly remain normal persons if at all they escape and survive. The thought of their past horrific experiences in the den of their captors often throws them in intermittent insanity or leave them permanently insane. What about those that have been displaced as a result of bloody attack, can they still remain mentally cooperative?

Corruption among the Leaders: as far as Nigeria is concerned, there is a few leaders and many rulers. There is no genuine love of the citizenry in them that are often found at the helm of affairs of the country—they are obsessed with their selfishness. Often time, the funds meant for social well-being of the citizens are shared among themselves, used for unworthy projects creating avenue to loot it or diverted to their own private pockets.

A clear instance of this is the “Paris fund” released recently to all state governors to pay all their state workers’ outstanding salaries. But unfortunately, many states governors diverted this fund to other unnecessary projects, starving, the workers and their family by extension. Their children are out of schools due to inability to pay school fees and many landlords and caretakers are no longer letting their houses to government workers. When they approach banks for loan, they are hardly given the pay-back-later opportunity. Many of these workers cannot afford to approach clinics and hospitals in the case of medical issues (since the government hospital is not free or affordable as always claimed) and this has led to the sudden death of many of them or avertable death of their children.

Clearing the misconception and misinformation that the preternatural or supernatural forces may be responsible for the increasing rate of mental health disorders among Nigerians, the government itself is the central fan blowing the ember of mental illness among Nigerians. Don’t forget that there is a prediction in the statement that “By 2020, it is estimated that common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse-related disorders, will disable more people than complications arising from HIV/AIDS, heart disease, accidents, and wars combined!”

What the government is saying is that in the next two years, there is going to be an increase to the 40million of the estimated 200million population of Nigeria with mental health disorders.


Let us question Nigeria government that what is it doing to save its citizenry from mental health issues? As if the government has lost its grip of the country, the more they run the less distance they cover. We don’t need to visit psychiatric hospitals—we need divine sanity in the operation of government itself which, in turn, will bring about vision, genuine love and sincerity, peace and tranquility. These are the virtual but effective psychiatric hospitals the solution to the alarming mental health disorders in the country.


Olayinka Olalekan Popoola 


Share On

© 2020 Mercy-Babs Communications