30% of Nigerians suffer mental illness –FG

The Federal Ministry of Health says about 20 to 30 per cent of Nigerians suffer from mental illness.

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, said this at the Mental Health Action Committee and Stakeholders’ Workshop in Abuja on Monday.

Abdullahi said with a population of about 200 million, Nigeria had a high rate of mental illness. This implies that Nigeria has about 60 million persons with mental illnesses.

He said, “There are many different mental disorders, with different presentations. They are generally characterised by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others.

“Mental disorders include: Depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, dementia, intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders including autism.

“In Nigeria, an estimated 20 to 30 per cent of our populations are believed to suffer from mental disorders. This is a very significant number considering Nigeria has an estimated population of over 200 million.

“Unfortunately, the attention given to mental health disorders in Nigeria is inadequate. The level of awareness of the Nigerian public on mental health issues is also understandably poor, and with lots of misconceptions.”

Also speaking, Director of Public Health, Dr Evelyn Ngige, said mental illness could destabilise a person more than HIV, heart disease, accidents, and wars combined.

She said Nigeria’s mental health statistics was too bad, adding that the high rate of suicide in places like Lagos may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Ngige added, “In Nigeria, an estimated 20 -30 per cent of our populations are believed to suffer from mental disorders, which is a very significant number. Considering the current economic situation in the country, the above statistics are damning and in the light of the recent suicidal episodes recorded in parts of Lagos (which are obviously a tip of the iceberg), it forces a rethink in our general attitudes to mental health and questions our current maintenance of the status quo.”

The director said the committee on mental health had failed to achieve its goal because of lack of funds.

Culled From Punch


The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CBM UK, Kirsty Smith visited Gede Foundation  on November 5, 2018, accompanied by CBM’s country representative, Mr. Samuel Omoi. Kirsty was interested in seeing how community mental health projects work and how exactly Gede is making it work. 

The  team, comprising Gede and CBM  staff  visited  one of Gede’s Community Mental Health and Development Project sites in Mpape at the Primary Health Centre, to interact with  healthcare workers and  project beneficiaries. Gede, with support from BasicNeeds UK and USA  is helping  to build  support groups of people with mental illness, epilepsy and their carers. The beneficiaries of the SHG as well as health workers were present at the meet and greet, which took place at the Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC). The services users and carers detailed how the programme has benefitted them and their communities. They informed Kirsty about the stigma related issues they faced in the past and how they have been able to overcome them. They further noted that as a support group, they help each other out especially as it relates to medication. They make contributions and help each other out. 

The Team moved to Karu Behaviour Medicine Unit, a secondary health facility where treatment, care and rehabilitation are provided to users. At Karu, the head of the behavioural unit, Dr Daramola, explained the relationship that is existing between Gede and the facility, where indigents patients are benefiting from the treatment costs supported through the project. Dr. Daramola explained the type of help they provide to Gede Foundation beneficiaries but noted that at the moment, they are not privy to bed space. This means that while they can get treated (medicine and therapy), they cannot be admitted to the hospital. Dr. Daramola explained that they are building more bed spaces and with time, more patients can be admitted for close monitoring as the need arises.  Kirsty asked about the gender distribution of in and out patients at the facility. Dr. Daramola responded that the facility has more male patients owing to substance abuse being higher among the men, compared to the women. 

The visit ended with hopes of working together on similar projects in the future. As always, check back to find out more exciting news!

GEDE and CBM Partner on Transitional Aid Specialized Services Project


A multi-year plan of action is currently being developed and led by Christian Blind Mission(CBM) to provide all-inclusive mental health, eye health, obstetric fistula and WASH for people affected by insurgency, including people with disabilities in Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa States. The workshop is sponsored by CBM and taking place in Jos, Plateau State from 24 to 27 October, 2018.

Working through a consortium, partners are proposing a three-year project cycle to ensure effective provision of specialised services to vulnerable populations in the 3 states.

Gede will implement Community Mental Health and Development Programme (CMHDP) using the BasicNeeds’ Model targeting 15000 beneficiaries. At the end of the workshop, participants will agree on key approaches, outcome statements, results areas, risk analysis, tasks, timeframes and budgets. The project outcomes will contribute to achieving 4 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.


GEDE and LAFARGE: A new session of educational empowerment to households

10 rural communities in Cross River State have been benefiting from the partnership between Gede Foundation and UNICEM (now LAFARGE) since 2013. Every year, 100 youths are provided with tuition and books to continue in secondary and tertiary institutions. The programme also includes school-based anti drugs and substance abuse campaigns. 

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Recent reports showed that the programme has recorded improvement in school attendance, participation and academic performance among beneficiaries who are usually selected through approved community development committees (CMDs). Over 600 households have been reached with the intervention, and many have graduated from secondary schools and tertiary institutions. 

This improved performance in schools is linked to the integration of other effective programmes such as the mental health, social and physical health among students (like counselling and outreaches), making available recommended subject textbooks, use of other instructional materials and choice of career courses.

This current year (2018/19 session) is reaching out to additional 100 households to enrol their wards into the programme aimed at laying foundations for productive lives.

Gede In The News!

Gede Foundation has empowered youths in Mpape to carry out  advocacy on treatment of mental health and other related cases.

The awareness programme to mark the World Mental Health Day with the theme, ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World’ in Mpape, Abuja, took place at the weekend.

The programme officer, Zunzika Thole, said there was need to break taboos about mental health issues, advance policy and reduce stigma and discrimination amongst those with mental illnesses.

She said the programme was about providing education, awareness and livelihood support and empowerment for those affected with mental health.

She added that some mental ailments were caused by substance abuse by younger people.

“We need a system that focuses on the people rather than drugs and that is what we are doing. Let us focus on the people and rehabilitate them, if we do that even if the drugs are there, they will not be able to get them because the demand will go down,” she said.

A social psychologist at the event, Samuel Jinadu, said substance abuse among adolescents was a major cause of mental health disorder, adding that without mental health, there was no health.

“We must understand that mental health can come in diverse ways and we shouldn’t term it as a spiritual problem; all mental health cases are health related and we must take responsibility to seek help for those that are affected.

“It is a treatable condition if detected early and it is not communicable when you touch the person that is affected. When you see people that have seizure, or withdrawing syndrome go close and render help,” he said.

Culled from Daily Trust

10/10 - World Mental Health Day 2018: Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World

Yesterday, October 10, 2018 was World Mental Health Day. To mark it, one of the Foundation’s Self Help Groups (Mpape chapter), held a rally to raise awareness and then convened at the chief’s palace for a brief talk by our resident psychologist, Mr. Samuel Jinadu.


Mr. Jinadu highlighted the use and abuse of drugs by youths today. He advised on signs to look out for and what to do in case someone exhibited such signs. He went further to explain that mental health conditions and epilepsy are non-communicable diseases - one cannot catch them by being in contact with another human being. He also explained that these conditions are MEDICAL and not SPIRITUAL as some people often assume.


The SHG leaders put up a small sketch to highlight the stigma they have faced in the past. They sketch showed a woman having an epileptic seizure in the streets. Two women were walking by and one of them cautioned when the other lady decided to help. She said that touching the epilptic woman would transfer the sickness to her. Upon hearing this, the helpful woman explained that touching her or helping her cannot transfer the sickness to them.


The day ended with scores of individuals explaining their journeys from when they began treatment, care and support, to where they are now. Most of them are in good shape, they are able to get treatment through the referral pathways that the Foundation and Primary & Secondary Healthcare Centres. So far, they have been able to sustain themselves and are continuing to do so. Our regular readers will recall that the Foundation sought to strengthen SHGs in Mpape and Mararaba, with BasicNeeds US. Please check the blog often for more updates!!

Happy 10/10!! Remember, there is no health without mental health!


Written By Godwin Etim

Research shows that mental health disorders are highly prevalent among people living with HIV-AIDS, with major depressive disorders (MDD) occurring almost twice as frequently than in the general population. There are biological and social conditions that predispose a person with HIV to mental health disorders. The HIV virus itself also can contribute to mental health problems because it affects the brain cells. Some other opportunistic infections can also affect the nervous system and lead to changes in behaviour and functioning. Similarly, neuropsychological disorders, such as mild cognitive changes or more severe cognitive conditions, such as dementia, are associated with HIV disease.

 NEPWHAN (Network of People Living With HIV & AIDS) identified this burden among its members and initiated (in partnership with Gede Foundation) a self-help group mainly for families going through these conditions.

The maiden and inaugural meeting took place on September 22, 2018 at NEPWHAN’s Office in Asokoro.


At the meeting, the Foundation presented its findings from the research on ‘Prevalence of depression, alcohol abuse, and suicidality among people living with HIV in FCT’, and also discussed the effectiveness of its current Community Mental Health Programme, using the BasicNeeds’ Model— which addresses stigma, provides medication and livelihood support leading to full recovery for those suffering from mental illnesses and epilepsy.

This partnership is timely as 1) the Country’s National HIV-AIDS Strategic Framework (2017-2021) mandated an integration of mental health services into the treatment and care protocols for those living with HIV, and, 2) the UNAIDS’ targets of 90:90:90 would be approached with some level of success when the mental health status for people at testing and treatment levels are considered and addressed.

The Body & Soul self-help group will be meeting every second Saturday of the month with the aim of expanding the groups across the states.

Visit our blog to receive more information on the outcome of this partnership



'I was brought back from the brink of suicide'

I hit my lowest point in 2014. I didn't think I would ever recover - but I did (Culled from BBC)

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Monday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day. To mark it, we spoke to Jaabir, a 32-year-old man with borderline personality disorder (BPD), about how he recovered from his attempt to take his own life in 2014. It's believed one in 10 people with BPD take their own lives.

Four years ago I tried to kill myself.

I made my plans and I didn’t tell any of my friends or family what I was doing. I sent them all text messages beforehand, asking them how their day was going and saying I hoped their next few weeks would be nice. A couple of them replied. I still remember those messages, even though it was just normal chat to them. I don’t think they could tell that I was in absolute agony on the other end.

As I walked towards the spot where I thought my life would end, I took a quick photo of the scene and posted it, without a caption, on my Facebook page. Looking back on it now, I guess it was a final cry for help. Part of me hoped someone would recognise where I was, realise why I was there, and come and rescue me. That’s not what happened, though. As you’d expect, people mainly just commented that it was a nice view.

I was about to jump when, at the last minute, a coastal worker found me and talked me out of it. It was essentially his job to walk around the area and stop people from, well, doing what I was trying to do.

Looking back on everything that’s happened since, I feel so grateful to that man for stopping me.

I'm 32 years old now, but I started experiencing mental health problems when I was just 12, around the time my dad died. 

He passed away suddenly from thrombosis. It came out of nowhere, like a lightning bolt to our family. He felt ill on the Friday and died on the Sunday.

My childhood was actually really happy up until that point but my dad passing away changed something within me. His death made me feel cut off from the rest of the world. I became increasingly overwhelmed with grief and started finding it difficult to talk to other kids at school. And because they couldn’t relate to me, they left me out of things and called me 'weird'. As I became more distant, they started to pick on me even more.

It wasn’t long before they started bullying me because I was gay. I hadn’t actually come out yet but that didn’t stop them beating me up to – in their words - “see if poofs could feel pain”. I knew deep down I was gay but the bullying made it so much harder for me to admit it, even to myself.

I silently took whatever they threw at me. But all the while I was crumbling inside.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was already developing traits associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Everyone with BPD experiences it differently, of course, but I fluctuate between being in a really low mood, like a depressive state, and feeling really high, like I can take on the world. It’s exhausting because I can switch between these two states within a day, or even within an hour. I can feel intensely happy, but then something will trigger me and plunge me into a really low mood. According to recent research, 2.4% of people aged 16 to 64 in the UK have BPD. 

My condition also makes me look at things in a really black and white way – things are either absolutely perfect, or they’re a total disaster. It’s the same with people too. Someone is either the most perfect person I’ve ever met, or they’re the spawn of the devil – and what’s worse, just one miscommunication can immediately turn someone from the former to the latter in my head. There’s never a grey area, there’s no in-between. I know situations aren’t actually like that, but I just can’t see things in any other way.

Even after reaching those depths of sadness I didn’t heed the warning my body was sending me.


This is why it’s always been so hard for me to make friends, and even harder to keep them. I know it’s tough for other people to stick around, because often I’ll take things personally when I shouldn’t, or I’ll take things out of context and put a really negative spin on them. If someone pays me a compliment, my mind automatically turns it into an insult. Fortunately, I do have four real friends who have stood by me through everything - and I've always had the unwavering support of my mum.

The feeling of not knowing exactly what was wrong with me, just that I was deeply unhappy and reacting in an over-the-top way to everything, was how I felt all through school, college and uni too. After I finished my degree I got a good, stable job in IT – but those feelings just wouldn’t go away.

Eventually in 2009, I had a breakdown at work. My mum, who I’m really close to, had fallen ill and it pushed me over the edge. But even after reaching those depths of sadness I didn’t heed the warning my body was sending me. Instead, I just got right back on the hamster wheel, started again, and tried to push the pain out of my mind.

It didn’t work.

I suffered another breakdown just a few years later, in 2014, which led me to try to take my own life. My mum was better, but I was up to my eyeballs in debt and, to be honest, I had just had enough of living. 

I didn't tell my mum about what almost happened until about a week later. I didn't want her to worry about me but I wasn't myself at all, so she knew something was up. In the end, she was warm and supportive, as I knew she would be. It felt good to confide in her.

It was then that I realised I couldn’t carry on the way I had been – this wasn’t something I could just push to one side and forget about. About a year later, in 2015, I decided I couldn’t hide who I was anymore and I finally came out as gay. I hoped that by acknowledging who I was, I could let go of the hurt and anger caused by the homophobic abuse I’d suffered as a child.

Most of the people close to me were really accepting – especially my mum, who has since become a massive LGBT ally. Even now, she’s always the first to tell me the latest gay rights news – I found out that Ireland had legalised same-sex marriage from her before seeing any of the headlines!

At the same time though, coming out was a bittersweet experience. Part of me had assumed that, if I came out, I would immediately feel this huge sense of relief and that I’d suddenly be happy with who I was. But that just wasn’t the case – and that disappointment at not having that 'a-ha!' moment, where everything resolved itself in my head, plunged me into another blue period. That’s when I finally went to a doctor and was formally diagnosed with BPD.

Getting diagnosed was only the beginning. I was prescribed a mood stabiliser but I knew I would have to try to find my own way for the next two years before I could have Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (or DBT) because of the long waiting lists for talking therapies on the NHS. I could see the time stretching out before me, which put me in a bit of a lonely place – but at least I knew what was making me feel this way.

After trying to take my own life, coming out and seeking professional help for my BPD, I left my job in IT. Instead, I started volunteering at a hospital in South London, before volunteering for a mental health charity in Camden for eight months. It felt good to help other people in a similar situation to me.

Then, one day in early 2017, I heard about a walking group run by a local mental health charity in my area of North London and decided to try it out. It was actually incredible. Even though it was just a short route, walking with a small group of people going through similar stuff made me feel a lot less alone – and the exercise helped me feel better too. Plus the guy leading the group seemed so confident, which I found inspiring. He had his life together in a way that I could only dream of.

The more walks I went on, the more energy I gained. I would chat to our group leader and ended up getting to know him quite well, and eventually I started plotting out our routes with him. It was voluntary, of course, but I really enjoyed it. I could feel myself growing in confidence. The weekly walks had become my reason to get up in the morning. 

In April this year, the group leader told me he was moving on to another job. I was devastated. I was worried that the walks, which had become a lifeline to me and so many other people in the area, wouldn’t be able to continue.

But he reassured me he already had a successor in mind: me.

Can you imagine how happy I was? I said yes straight away – I had finally been given the opportunity to do something I really enjoyed, to help others with mental health problems, and, crucially, to get back into paid work. Now I spend my week planning the routes, making sure they're different enough each time so they stay interesting.

Things got even better at the end of last year because I finally started having my DBT treatment. I go once a week and talk to my therapist about my childhood, being bullied and the death of my dad.

It’s allowed me to look at things more objectively. I’ve even been able to forgive the kids who bullied me at school – which sounds unbelievable, but I can see that they may have had a lot of problems themselves that they were passing on to me.

I’ve realised being angry wasn’t helping me at all. Instead, it’s just been a source of torment. Now, I'm even thinking about becoming a counsellor one day, so I could help others with their mental health problems full-time.

I’ve come a long way since I was standing on the edge of that cliff, feeling totally hopeless, ready to give it all up, but now I feel genuinely happy.


Oh, and I have a boyfriend now too - his name's Dale (he's the guy standing next to me in the photo above). We’re ridiculously happy together, which is an incredible feeling. We actually met on a dating site specifically for people with mental health conditions, which makes it easier really – it means that we both instinctively understand what the other is going through. Plus, my mum absolutely loves him – which is always a good sign. We’re celebrating our one-year anniversary this month.

It has taken a long time and a lot of hard work to get to this point. I’ve come a long way since I was standing on the edge of that cliff, feeling totally hopeless, ready to give it all up, but now I feel genuinely happy. 

I only hope that I can keep helping other people feel this way too.

As told to Ashitha Nagesh

If you have been affected by issues raised in this article, help and support is available from these organisations.

Reconnection - A New Mental Health Camp

After over a year, Gede Foundation has re-entered Mpape and Mararaba communities in order to not only strengthen their Self Help Groups (SHGs), but also to provide a clear referral pathway from the communities to the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) to a secondary healthcare facility. 

With that in mind, the Foundation held a Mental Health Camp (MHC) on Saturday, August 11th 2018, in Mpape at the PHC. As always, there was an array of cases ranging from schizophrenia to epilepsy to depression. Our regular readers will recall the lady who was chained to a pole in a church for over 3 years. She has, for some time now, not been attending SHG meetings and we had hoped to see her progress as we had heard there was a relapse. Much of it bordered on the fact that she was pregnant and could therefore not continue with the medication she was on. She was also not doing any type of business and so was financially handicapped. However, after she had her baby (who is now 10 months old), she continued with her medication. When she came to the MHC on Saturday, she  did not only look like a different woman, she was different. She was very articulate and seemed to have all her faculties intact. She narrated that she was still on her medication. She has continued with her business - tailoring and pastry making. She is also able to regularly buy her medication without significant interruptions. In fact, when she went to speak to the attending physician for the day, Dr. Oladele Fagbohun, he did not seem to think there was anything wrong with her. She had to be sent back to the doctor to explain her history properly. The headaches that had plagued her for such a long time are now a thing of the past! 

Another interesting case was of a woman, who for over 10 years has had a recurring problem. She feels hot inside her body at night. Even after she removes beddings and clothing, she still feels hot. She even goes as far as immersing herself in cold water to no avail. This has continued, along with blinding headaches, until she was given some form of medication. Even as she was speaking tears were just pouring - but not because she was crying, it appeared that was the norm. She did not even seem to realise that the tears were flowing. After she saw the doctor, he concluded that she was schizophrenic as there were other issues that she divulged to him. This was one of the many new cases that were presented. 

Epilepsy, remained the most common ailment plaguing our users. One of our old users, even with medication, still has regular seizures. His mother has thankfully seen a pattern. When there is a change in the weather, hot or cold, windy or rainy, the boy has violent seizures. Overall, he is doing well.

Our next MHC will be in Mararana on the 16th of August, 2018. Do return for more updates! You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter


Our regular readers will recall that Gede Foundation received grants from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to validate ‘Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Screening Tools for use among Vulnerable Children in Nigeria’ in 2016. A review of the Project Report by stakeholders in 2018 suggested a pilot study using the 4 validated screening tools, (now in English, Pidgin and Hausa languages) among Children in CRS’s SMILE Project locations in the Federal Capital Territory and Nasarawa State. The tools under reference are the Conduct Disorder Screen, Oppositional Deviant Disorder, Depression Rating Scale and the Child Symptom Scale.  

In preparation for the study, 20 Research Assistants were trained on data collection for 3 days by the Principal Investigator, Professor Andrew Zamani of Nassarawa State University. 

Prof Zamani explained the study procedure including case identification using the screeners, ethical considerations, acquiring consents from primary caregivers and potential benefits of such study. He emphasized on observing research ethics, especially, as it involves respondents who are orphans and vulnerable children within 12-17 age range.

A combination of presentations, role plays, plenary and practical sessions helped to equip Research Assistants with the required knowledge and skills to begin with data collection from 500 expected respondents in the two locations. The field activities will commence in a couple of days.


Visit the page for more update regarding the study.