Mental Health in Nigeria


Oyinkansola Alabi is set to release a documentary and a comic book that addresses mental health issues. The Founder of Emotions City, an emotional intelligence centre is committed to addressing mental health issues and proffering solution.

The documentary is titled, ‘The Story of a Girl Who Stood Up for Emotional Intelligence in Nigeria’.

According to her, the comic book will be released alongside the documentary this month.

She explained that the documentary tells the impact of emotional intelligence and mental health on some people she has encountered.

“We interviewed about 10 people who shared their stories that made up the documentary. We are also exploring technology; more so we are becoming a tech platform that creates emotional stability solutions,” she said.

Read Also: Depression, It’s Symptoms And Cure

On the comic book, she said: “We are trying to simplify mental health and make it go viral. People prefer to read the content title, wisdom and wilts, which is education and some level of simplicity and fun. So we decided to hop on a comic. We have done some comics before, which were shared amongst friends. But now we want to amplify the voices and make it go as viral as possible.”

She further stated that the comic book would be translated into 10 different languages like Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, French, English, German, Spanish, Tiv, Efik and Russian with the help of volunteers, adding that it would be distributed free of charge while the translators would receive credit for their intellectual contribution.

Speaking on how the centre has impacted mental health in Africa, she said: “We created therapy gift cards where you can gift your friends, colleagues or anyone who needs therapy, that can reach out to us and come for sessions. We also had a therapy hotline for a year where people could call in and receive free therapy. We had to pause it because I was the one sponsoring and championing it with my funds and I just felt a year was good enough to do that but we offer free therapy from time to time when we can.

Read Also: I Want To Help Reduce The Number Of Depressed And Suicidal Souls

“This means I need to deepen my impact and look beyond offering therapy to individuals, organisations and schools so that we can include mental health in the curriculum. I will be more available to work with school, to create a mental health department, mental health cafes and include mental health in their curriculums.”

Alabi recently bagged a doctorate degree on Behavioural Psychology from S.K University in Benin Republic. She is also a productivity enhancement and life validation strategist. The first female founder of an Emotional Intelligence Academy in Africa, she is also the convener of Africa’s first Emotional Intelligence Week. A Goldman Sachs Scholar, Alabi is one of the 100 most influential and impactful women in Nigeria, 2019 and 2022.

Source: Guardian Nigeria 


At exactly 10:42pm on 8th of March 2017, I wrote “Heaven I need a Hug” on my wall , perhaps I needed a hug considering the fact that I have several back logs and I was stressed at the time, but beyond that I wanted to see how people will respond , I wasn’t disappointed with the number of e-hugs I received within thirty minutes BUT two friends had to slide to my inbox and asked me to put down the post, one said it showed too much emotions and the other said “you are too strong to be perceived like a weak woman Esther , bring it down its not good for your brand”. Wetin concern personal brand with emotions ogini?

This is exactly the reason why people suffer and die in silence , imagine if all the people who committed suicide recently  put up a post similar to mine just to let people know they need help and get  such response from their friends?

Please let’s allow people express themselves on social media the way and manner they like, as a matter of fact I want to encourage anyone who is down, depressed or about to give it all up , put up a post and let’s know what you are going through , sometimes the closet people to us are our biggest problem and you cant tell your problem to a problem, it’s fine to seek help on Facebook or any other social media platform or other direct means.

Feel free to write messages such as :

“I am Depressed”
“I need help”
“I need to talk to someone ”
“Please help”
“I need a therapist”
“I need a counsellor ”
Etc etc etc

Just express yourself however you feel and I am sure someone out there will reach out to you. I am positive we have good people who truly care in Nigeria, all you need to reach them is to SPEAK UP!

I have been down that road before, and it’s not just being depressed because life happened or stress, I was in my world, the over analysing and over thinking stage where you feel living isn’t worth it anymore,  and I don’t pray to ever go there again, I was in self denial of my state of mind till a true friend who didn’t judge me asked that I seek help from a therapist . I am a survivor, no shame at all, and a proud Mental health advocate for She Writes Woman

If you need to talk to someone about your problems please reach out to the following people: Hauwa Ojeifo, Oyinkansola Alabi, Praise Fowowe , Laila St. Matthew-Daniel, Pamela Udoka.

I have a listening ear , I will give you a hug, give you my time and attention, walk you through the process but sadly I can’t offer you the professional help you need like the above mentioned persons. Please don’t die in silence , reach out, SPEAK UP and don’t let depression and suicide win.

Kindly add names of other therapist in the comment section ???.

Please seek help….

You are not alone…..

From being some of the happiest people on earth, Nigerians have slumped to the rank of the most depressed in Africa. This was the conclusion contained in the latest figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which show that Nigeria has 7,079,815 sufferers of depression, that is 3.9 per cent of the population.Also, 4,894,557 Nigerians, that is 2.7 per cent of the population, suffer anxiety disorders. The country is closely followed by Ethiopia with 4,480,113 sufferers, that is 4.7 per cent of her population; Democratic Republic of Congo with 2,871,309 sufferers (3.8 per cent); South Africa with 2,402,230 sufferers (4.6 per cent); and Tanzania with 2,138,939 sufferers, that is 4.1 per cent. Seychelles has the lowest number of depressed persons with just 3,722 that is 4.0 per cent.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease, according to WHO. Depression can lead to suicide, which is the second leading cause of death in 15 – 29-year- olds globally. Consequently, the condition can lead to more suicide cases in the country.

In the African region, close to 30 million people suffer from depression.

The global body gave the figures in a report released ahead of the World Health Day (WHD) today titled “Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates.”

WHD, celebrated on April 7 every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO, provides a unique opportunity to mobilise action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world. The theme of 2017 World Health Day campaign is depression.

According to the WHO report, depressive disorders and anxiety disorders are two main diagnostic categories of common mental disorders that are highly prevalent in the population.

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

The WHO noted that at a global level, over 300 million people are estimated to suffer from depression, equivalent to 4.4 per cent of the world’s population and nearly that number again suffers from a range of anxiety disorders. It, however, noted that since many people experience both conditions simultaneously (comorbidity), it is inappropriate to simply add these two figures together to arrive at a total for common mental disorders.

The WHO noted that the consequences of these disorders in terms of lost health are huge.

Depression is ranked by WHO as the single largest contributor to global disability (7.5 per cent of all years lived with disability in 2015); anxiety disorders are ranked 6th (3.4 per cent).

According to the global health agency, depression is also the major contributor to suicide deaths (about 800 000 per year).

Why are Nigerians most depressed in Africa? “The number of persons with common mental disorders globally is going up, particularly in lower-income countries, because the population is growing and more people are living to the age when depression and anxiety most commonly occurs,” the WHO explained.

Who is most likely to get depressed? “Although depression can and does affect people of all ages, from all walks of life, the risk of becoming depressed is increased by poverty, unemployment, life events such as the death of a loved one or a relationship break-up, physical illness and problems caused by alcohol and drug use,” the WHO noted.

To address the issues of depression and anxiety disorders, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) has introduced LUTH-Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN) and its “ONE 1 MORE DAY” campaign aimed at reducing suicide deaths.

Consultant Psychiatrist and LUTH-SURPIN Coordinator, Dr. Raphael E. Ogbolu, told The Guardian yesterday: “SURPIN has hotlines (09080217555, 09034400009, 08111909909, 07013811143) through which members of the public seeking help can reach us. The main target groups are those at risk of suicide and are contemplating an attempt, those who have survived an attempted suicide and therefore may be in critical physical condition, and those who are bereaved by the suicide of a family member, because they themselves also then become at risk.”

According to the WHO, the health condition affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.

Yet, the condition can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma and lead to more people seeking help.


Credit: Guardian

The C.E.O, Genevieve magazine, Betty Irabor launches her new fashion collection at the Lagos Fashion Week 2018, which started on Wednesday, 24th October 2018.

It would be recalled that Betty Irabor shared her story of coping with poor mental health a few months ago, and she wrote a book on it, titled ‘Dust To Dew’

As a mental health awareness advocate, she named her fashion line “The Dew Collection” after her book. This collection is dedicated to mental health awareness.

The sponsor of the collection is Patrick Ayanski and features designers such as Mai Atafo, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, Style Temple, among others.

Morning has broken!! This evening at the Lagos Fashion Week, we take Mental Health awareness to the runway…to creating awareness for this mind disorder that is mental health.
This evening, Dew Collection by Betty will show case some very bold,fire ball pieces with fabrics by our Sponsor @patrickayanski and co sponsors/designers who threw their awesome weight behind this cause. We should never allow our pains to go to waste by not saving others from the same fate. Hopefully…we unveil the secrecy surrounding it and then fight the stigma.
Once again, I thank you all for your love and look forward to seeing you as we unveil the Dew collection.

An estimated 60 million Nigerians are at risk of suffering from depression, according to the Nigeria National Depression report produced by Joy, Inc. in partnership with NOIPolls.

The report, which is the first nationwide study of happiness and depression, was released in commemoration of the World Mental Health Day 2018, and contains results from at least 1,000 interviews, all of them conducted by telephone, in five major Nigerian languages: English, Pidgin English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.

“This report is a product of our surveys as we seek to better understand the needs of the population we serve,” one of the authors of the report and member of the Central Working Group, Glory Apantaku explained. “Our results serve as an important reminder of the urgency of this work, mental health issues are real and it is high time we paid attention,” she said.

Highlights of the report include:

  1. Most Nigerians surveyed defined happiness as having the basic needs of life. The second largest group of respondents defined happiness as having peace of mind.
  2. Several Nigerians believed that they are averagely satisfied (4.99) with their life as a whole these days, and are hopeful that they will be better satisfied in life five years from now. Most Nigerians also felt they were better five years ago (standing at 6.41) than they are currently.
  3. 31.6% of polled respondent reported experiencing depressive symptoms. Putting this in perspective, 3 out of every 10 Nigerians are at risk of depression.
  4. 27.8% of respondents reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety
  5. While both physical and mental health are important for a flourishing life, mental illness explains more of the misery in the society more than physical illness, poverty or unemployment.
  6. Nigeria needs to be proactive in taking mental and emotional health seriously by reviewing the national mental health policy and creating a viable legislative framework to meet global standards, investing in public education to influence the culture to one that promotes resilience and creates safe spaces for emotional and mental healing, and investing in research, innovation and development.

The report also recommended that new metrics for measuring human progress should move from the use of financial values like GDP and focus on happiness and flourishing of citizens.

The National Depression report can be downloaded at report.joyinc.xyz.



Credit: Bella Naija

When the hand is broken, we go to see the doctor.
No, we run to see the doctor.
We know it needs fixing.
No one will see you carrying a broken hand and tell you to suck it up, hide it, you don’t want anyone to know. Of course, no one will stigmatize you for your broken hand.

The intense pain will not let you hide, you will run off to a surgeon and ask him to do something.
We all know the hand is replaceable and we even have two.We have two hands, two legs, two eyes, two ears, two kidneys; nearly every organ in the body can be successfully transplanted or fixed surgically.
You also know that even if you lose those limbs, there are prosthetic limbs you can wear so we have at our beck and call a ton of remedies for fixing a broken limb. Let’s not mention the friends and family that will support you during recovery and take turns by your bed side.Sadly, when your mind/brain is ‘broken’. They tell you to hide it. Don’t seek help. You will bring shame on the family and wrongly so, ignorant people will begin to avoid you and your family.

How else would you fix the mind/brain if you don’t seek help?
Do you have two brains? Do you know anyone that will donate one for you?

Are you looking forward to doing a mind/brain transplant or are there prosthetic minds/brains available for sale? Some people even have the resources to seek help but will hide under the cover of ‘do you know who I am?’. My pedigree? My status? Yet, they are not whole.

The broken mind/brain does not have prosthesis.
The broken mind or brain cannot be transplanted from a family member or donor.
Only you know where it hurts and how it hurts.

Some of us have emotional baggage from our childhood and past experiences that only therapy can take care of. Unfortunately, we can’t place these feelings and its consequences so we are unable to deal with it. It affects our relationships, our performance at work/productivity and our wellbeing. For this reason, some have been tagged as ‘having spiritual problem’ or being possessed while being ferried from one prayer house to another. It is a factor in the domestic violence/emotional abuse in marriage towards spouse and children.

It is no longer enough to tell people to lose weight, to follow a meal plan, to register at the gym, to wake up first thing in the morning to exercise – as long as those deep-seated issues are not dealt with through therapy and inquiry (excavating & uprooting); many of us will continue to use food as a coping mechanism. This is why with my clients, I choose first to focus on behavior remodeling. Sadly, many people don’t want to deal with the real issues they prefer a ‘meal plan’ that will fail them again and again.
You know deep within you that this mind/brain is not ‘working’ as it should and you want to be whole…believe me, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Mental illnesses are disorders affecting a state and part of the body just like you would have kidney diseases, liver diseases and every other disease that affects a part of the body. Once a disorder in any of these parts result, it becomes an illness. There should be no stigma associated with it, just because they manifest differently is not a cause for stigma either. If we are not stigmatizing the person with a broken hand, we are wrong to stigmatize the one with a broken mind/brain.

Please, don’t let your ‘well-meaning’ pastor tell you ‘we will pray it out’. Why did that other church member who fractured her knee get admitted in the hospital and you all went to see her with baskets of fruits. Why was she not managed in church with prayer and fasting?
PS: Your pastor cannot fulfill every role in your life and a good pastor should be the first person encouraging you to seek professional help.

Yes, in God’s word there is an answer for every situation. Just like we had priests, we had kings, we had men at the city gates, we had scribes. Each one fulfilling a different purpose.
Today, we have therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. Every wisdom here on earth comes from God. So, the therapists and psychiatrists you will see are acting under God’s divine wisdom just like the pastor is.

Even the psychiatrist is stigmatized.
In my 2nd year of Medical School (about 13 years ago), I heard about the psychiatrist in my city. They said he behaves like his patients, jumps on tables when attending to patients and ‘looks and acts crazy’. I’m sure most people who ‘distributed’ that narrative had never seen this man. I on the other hand have been there during a 4-week posting in my 5th year, never for once did I witness any of the doctors jumping on tables. This is what ‘the danger of a single story’ does to the world of psychiatry.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are trained to diagnose and treat mental  illness with medication or evideAccording to the WHO, while information is lacking on mental health and access to mental health in Nigeria is quite limited, it is estimated that at least 4% of the population suffer from depression. I assume this number is very much underestimated thanks to our poor health seeking behaviors (people don’t seek medical help until it is severe).

While there are non-existent desks in the ministries at any level for mental health and only 3.3% of the Federal Government’s health budget goes to mental health, we can do better as individuals. Stigmatization will only lead to more and more people suffering in silence, never getting help and even getting worse. A 4-week therapy session for that woman suffering post-partum depression will go a long way in helping her raise mentally strong children that will neither be neglected nor emotionally abused …but she won’t go for fear that YOU & I will stigmatize/ostracize her and her children.

– When we feel pain in our muscles or limbs we see the orthopedic surgeon
– When we feel pain around the abdomen, we see the gastroenterologist
– When our heart hurts suddenly we run down to the cardiologist. No one wants to die of a heart attack.
– When we feel pain in our minds/brains we have every right like every other person who seeks help for pain in other parts of their body to see a therapist or a psychiatrist.

Having a mental illness does not mean you’re broken or weak. far from it. Acknowledging that you have a biological imbalance and need help is the most courageous thing that you can do today: It is a sign of strength, not weakness. I believe everyone deserves a therapy session at least twice a year.
As a psychiatrist rightly quoted, there is no health without mental health.

Mental Health Helplines and Resources in Nigeria
Nigeria Suicide Prevention Initiative: +234 806 210 6493
Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative +234 806 010 1157
She Writes Woman +234 817 491 3329


About Ezinne Meribe
Dr. Ezinne Meribe is the host of Beyond A Dress Size podcast; a podcast series that creates stimulating conversations to pull down misconceptions on nutrition, weight loss, health and body diversity while empowering women to live life beyond the numbers on the dress label, scale or tape.
She is the Lead Wellness Coach/Founder at Zinnyslifestyle, where she leverages her professional qualifications and personal experience to teach women how to OWN & LOVE their bodies and LIVE in it fabulously; having successfully won the struggle with being overweight and loving her body. A UK certified Wellness Professional with a Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS), she completed her postgraduate training in Public Health at Kumamoto University, Japan. As a Medical Doctor and Public Health Specialist, she continues to promote preventive medicine as the number one way to combat the severe health system constraints in developing countries.

You can connect with her on
Instagram @zinnyslifestyle
Facebook @zinnyslifestyle
Read more on Medium @ezinnemeribe
Or send an email to info@zinnyslifestyle.com