Online support service for people suffering from mental health crisis in Nigeria (part 2)

July 6, 2019 |

“Nigeria is severely short of mental health services for people in the Northeast. NEEM was born to solve this problem. Psychological support from our experts will help patients reduce stress, ”said Chinyereugo Udensi, a NEEM clinical psychologist. Some veterans Boko Haram said that they had been kidnapped, had to join a warrior group, had to choose to fight or be killed. Some people leave the group, reintegrate into society, but do not have their own mental health or follow-up assessment.

NEEM focuses especially on approaching war-affected children by conducting counseling sessions at a trauma center for children and youth. Recently, NEEM also decided to open a psychological training center in Maiduguri. Here, learners, mostly university graduates of sciences are trained under a 9-month program.

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Mental health care through social networks

Nigeria currently has only 8 mental health clinics across the country, so it is necessary to join hands with non-profit organizations. With about 103 million Nigerians using the Internet, non-governmental organizations are looking for new ways to reach customers who need mental health support. Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) is one of them. MANI provides the majority of mental health care services through social networks with platforms like Whatsapp and Twitter.

Mowunmi Olanrewaju (26), an urban environmental researcher in Lagos, said she had found timely online support when she fell into depression. When Olanrewaju intends to commit suicide, she was consulted by experts of MANI through direct messages on Twitter. “It was a time when I felt like everything around me collapsed. I am always worried about the future, the past and uncertain about what I want. In 2014, on the morning of the birthday, ignore all calls and messages, a feeling of extreme sadness and loneliness that made me want to commit suicide. A friend advised me to go to a psychiatrist but that was too expensive in Nigeria. The price of 70 USD per visit is too high compared to the income of the people.

Nigeria, “recalls Mowunmi Olanrewaju. Fortunately, Olanrewaju is consulted by psychologists from MANI via Twitter. “Thanks to MANI, I have a more optimistic view of life,” Mowunmi Olanrewaju added.

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