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90% of Nigerians With Mental Disorders Do Not Visit Hospital – Psychiatrist




A Consultant Psychiatrist, Femi Olugbile, on Friday said 90 percent of Nigerians with mental disorders did not visit their healthcare providers for attention.

Olugbile, who is also a former Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

According to him, such attitude will have detrimental effects on both the individual and the society at large.

“90 percent of people, who have mental disorders in our country, whether major or minor, do not get to see any healthcare provider at all for relief of their symptoms.

“So, they are not diagnosed or treated which is a shame, because they have a detrimental effect, not just on the individuals, but on our society.

“Most people who have mental illnesses carry them about; it is like they are working wounded. So, they go to work and live their lives.

“They are not disturbing other people, but they are under-performing at their tasks or they are making wrong decisions as a result of the illness. So, untreated mental illness, whether major or minor, carries a cost both for the individual and the society.”

Olugbile said that, at least, one in five people would some time in life experience one or other types of mental illness.

According to him, most of the illnesses that people have are not psychotic such as hallucinations, schizophrenia, they are anxiety and depression.

“They are very common and often missed, because people do not even recognise them as mental illnesses, and they do not present themselves to healthcare providers.

“They do not present, sometimes, out of ignorance or just because the facilities for intervention are not available or within their easy reach.

“Those constitute the overwhelming majority of mental illnesses,” he said.

Olugbile said that there were approximately 100 psychiatrists in Nigeria due to brain drain which had continued to be a challenge.

“Many Nigerian psychiatrists practiced abroad because conditions of work in many Western countries are obviously more attractive than locally.

“Also, many young doctors prefer to specialise in areas they consider more ‘lucrative’ such as obstetrics and gynaecology rather than psychiatry.

“Efforts are ongoing to get more young doctors to show interest in psychiatry as a career.”

Olugbile said that it was a challenge and the country has to think of how to creatively provide mental health services to substantial number of the people.

Photo Credit:  Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang)/Dreamstime

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in May 1976 to gather and distribute news on Nigeria and cover events of interest to Nigeria at the international level for the benefit of the Nigerian Media and the Public.


  1. vivan

    November 22, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Doc,pls recommend a good health center within lagos for mental diagnosis

    • kemi

      November 23, 2014 at 3:38 am

      Federal Neuropsychiatric hospital Yaba.

  2. LILO

    November 22, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Yep..they would rather go to RCCG camp or mountain of fire

    • bruno

      November 23, 2014 at 3:33 am

      everything I wanted to say, u have said it. nigerians believe u can beat the mental sickness out of someone.

  3. anonymous

    November 22, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    yabaleft… its Govt owned

  4. Honeycrown

    November 22, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    90%? I believe that number is low. Our economic situation is enough to make 4 out of 5 people develop anxiety & depression & I’m not trying to be funny. People also do not present themselves to healthcare providers for fear of been stigmatized. In my opinion, Religion is another negating factor in the treatment of mental illness. Many individuals prefer “spiritual” intervention because they are told (what they want to hear) that someone is responsible for their condition. Even some people abroad abandon good medical treatment of mental illness for Nigeria so they can seek “spiritual” intervention. Our culture & society is also another issue; We don’t help people with mental illnesses cope well because we label them. We don’t open up or share our illnesses with one other. I don’t mean to derail off topic but I know someone who suffered from vaginal yeast infection since secondary school & left it untreated & simply got used to the itch, smell & discomfort. It wasn’t until about 5 years later when she visited the US that she saw a doctor and was prescribed an over the counter medication. When I asked why she didn’t confide in her mom or anyone since she had the problem, she said she didn’t want to be labeled as having an STD. A simply yeast infection affected her for so long and even her relationships. So you can imagine mental illness loun loun.

  5. Ojo

    November 22, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Forget about shame for a minute let’s say If they report it can they afford the treatment? #gbam!!

    • Onye

      November 23, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Or if the doctors even know what they are talking about. Someone I know was diagnosed with schizophrenia in Nigeria. When she then went to UK, the doctors said she just had a breakdown. Nigeria is full of charlatans and quacks.

  6. Mohammad

    November 23, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Na deliverance dem go send you for in naija. #Notinggodcantdotinz
    Worse thing be say the religion na oju aye religion too. It’s not as if the same holy-holy people are involved in helping the poor and destitute, fighting for human rights of the unfortunate or challenging bad government. They pay bribes like there is no tomorrow. When dem sick, dem go come dey talk ridiculousities like “I am strong”.
    “Strong” my black yansh. If you like no go see doctor! Na pastor Chris go cause you to kpeme for corner.

  7. Kemi

    November 23, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Thats so true, Nigerians believe everything is spiritual. Abeg make una go for a full scan assessment, theres a private psychiatric hospital in Wuse 2; everybody get small craze. MayGodhelp us…

  8. dem

    November 23, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    At honeycomb . Good to know this discussion is coming up in Nigeria . As a psychiatric nurse practising in uk , I do understand what people with mental health experiences such as stigma and labelling, abandonment, poor relationship ,symptomatic to mention few. Evidence remains that people with mental health respond well to treatment or recover very well in African compared to developed countries . The fact remains that we eat natural food which aids good mental health, socializing,family support, with these, people are able to work and fully recovered. The only problem I have with Nigeria govt is lack of awareness of mental health to general population in general, and protection of rights of people with mental health problem ,inadequate professionals. u will be surprised to know how many Nigeria politician”s family I have treated in uk but believe me treatment is in Nigeria. In Lagos alone, 17% of the population have undiAgnosed schizophrenia,more or less other neurosis conditions . Recently I read a news about a rent university undergraduate experiencing acetate depression , unfortunately after his parent has experienced change in behaviour , he was taken to a doctor, unfortunately the doctor could not identify the Symptoms , told the parent that he was fine and discharged. The boy eventually killed himself . The fact remain that the boy had acute depression which can easily be treated. So many life has been lost through this way. Same has people experiencing hallucination and hearing commands to kill other. I am planning to open a mental health blogs where I can create awareness about mental health . We all need to do it together

    • Segun

      August 25, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      Gud afternoon nurse,
      Am segun by name and I want pple lyk u to help my sister recover. She was married to a naughty husband. The man took away all her kids and happiness saying(she’s not a gud woman dat man can marry after 5 kids) she is not normal again because of d way she think of dis act. Now she’s always saying dat the husband has stab d kids to death. And her last baby was sink in d toilet. She even go to extent by stabing her own mother with bottle. I think her condition is going chronic every were she go she is not welcome. I’m jst a young guy who is trying to get food to eat. I’m been looked at by everybodi in terms of financial assistance but I don’t have money. How do u think I can help her. Is dere any kind of help I will received frm u concerning ma sister.

    • Joe

      June 23, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      You are right and let me know anytime you create the site for better understanding symptoms of it also maybe medicine

  9. lala

    November 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    The Nigerian culture perceive the illness negatively . Therefore, awareness and desensitization of the deases should be the first step in enlightening people. This will help patients self report , while the society embrace and not stigmatize them. Mental health organizations needs to collaborate with the state and fed goverment in developing good incentives for mental health providers such as therapists, Psychologists and Psychiatrists.

  10. Amobi

    November 25, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Pls can I have contacts of any of these therapists, Psychologists or Psychiatrists that resides in port harcourt..thanks

    • Nikki

      May 27, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      Hi. Did you get any response? Looking for a therapist in Port Harcourt too

  11. Seun

    February 28, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Can I have addresses of private therapists in Lagos please?

  12. Favour

    August 11, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks to the writer of this article and also those who have made comments. Please I need help. My mum has paranoid schizophrenia and was asked to come back to yaba else she wouldn’t be given more drugs (these drugs I use for her without her consent). I tried to make them understand that before I could bring her at first I had to de ceive her and this will not work again and I can’t get someone to force her because I don’t have money and the two of us stay alone. Relatives are all not supportive. Please I need advice.

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