Viewpoint

June 15, 2023

Need for mental health awareness amongst Nigeria’s youth amidst economic challenges, unemployment rates

Mental health

By Oyinkan Mayowa

Nigeria is witnessing a growing need for mental health awareness among its youth population, driven by the economic challenges and high unemployment rates faced by young individuals.

With the United Nations predicting that Nigeria’s population is estimated to rise to 223.8 million by mid-2023 from 216 million in 2022 and the recent rise to 41% in the country’s unemployment rate according to KPMG, the urgency of addressing these issues and providing effective resources for mental health support cannot be overemphasised.

According to Taiwo Obindo, President of APN, more than 60 million Nigerians are suffering from mental illnesses, creating a significant treatment gap for mental health in the country. Obindo pointed out several factors hindering the management of mental illness in Nigeria, including myths and traditional beliefs, inadequate mental health facilities, and a shortage of mental health professionals.

“Mental healthcare is in a sorry state given that we have more than 60 million Nigerians suffering from various mental illnesses, and only about 10 per cent of them could access appropriate care,” Obindo said.

“We are left with more than 90 percent who are unable to access care, and this group is called the treatment gap for mental illnesses.”

One of the key challenges contributing to the treatment gap is the lack of access to appropriate care. Additionally, Nigeria faces a shortage of mental health practitioners, with the number falling below the ratio recommended by the World Health Organization. The few mental health professionals who are trained often leave the country due to various factors, including the working environment, security concerns, and inadequate remuneration. Developed countries also tend to poach already trained medical practitioners, further exacerbating the shortage of mental health professionals, particularly psychiatrists.

In light of these challenges, resources like the “A Plethora of Thoughts” game serve as a valuable resource to guide individuals through their mental health healing journey. This card game, designed to promote self-discovery, self-awareness, and emotional well-being, provides essential advice and comforting messages that can help individuals navigate their mental health struggles.

“Addressing the rising need for mental health awareness among Nigeria’s youth requires a conscious effort,” said Oyinkan Mayowa, a 25-year-old frequent user of the game. “In our fast-paced world, where stress and anxiety seem to be constant companions, the importance of mental health has never been more evident. As someone who has personally traversed the depths of emotional struggles, the “A Plethora of Thoughts” game has become my guiding light on the path to healing, self-discovery, and overall well-being.”

With similar targetted resources available, young Nigerians can own their mental health care and optimise to ensure prioritize stability and growth.

Mayowa wrote in from Lagos