đź”» MENTAL HEALTH IN NIGERIA: MHEI Hosts Press Conference and Round Table Discussion with CSOs in Nigeria

The issues of mental disorders and mental illnesses have become topic of great concerns today. According to the Federal Government of Nigeria, 20% to 30 % of Nigeria’s estimated 200 million population suffers from mental disorders, this means that 3 in 10 Nigerians suffer from one form of mental disorders or the other.

While many Nigerians have misconceptions and misbeliefs about mental illness, which has unconsciously stigmatized people with mental illness, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that only about three percent of the Nigeria government’s budget on health goes to mental health. Meanwhile, we have about 200 psychiatrists (some are not practicing, while others are in the academia) presently in Nigeria— approximately one psychiatrist per 1 million people.

This dwindling situation has resulted into the human rights abuse of thousands of people with mental health conditions across Nigeria. According to the Human Rights report of November 11, 2019, people who should be supported and provided with effective services in their communities are found to be chained and abused in many settings, including state hospitals, rehabilitation centers, traditional healing centers, and both Christian and Islamic faith-based facilities.

It was garnered from the report that “Between August 2018 and September 2019, Human Rights Watch visited 28 facilities ostensibly providing mental health care in 8 states and the Federal Capital Territory, including federal psychiatric hospitals, general state hospitals, state-owned rehabilitation centers, Islamic rehabilitation centers, traditional healing centers, and Christian churches where people with actual or perceived mental health conditions, including children, are placed in facilities without their consent, usually by relatives.”

“In some cases, police arrest people with actual or perceived mental health conditions and send them to government-run rehabilitation centers. Once there, many are shackled with iron chains, around one or both ankles, to heavy objects or to other detainees, in some cases for months or years. They cannot leave, are often confined in overcrowded, unhygienic conditions, and are sometimes forced to sleep, eat, and defecate within the same confined place. Many are physically and emotionally abused as well as forced to take treatments.”

Read full story HERE

As a result of this, on November, 22, 2019, MHEI organized a Mental Health Media Conference alongside our colleagues from mental health affiliated organizations such as Neem Foundation, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) and Secure D Future International Initiative to express our worries over the ill-treatment meted on mentally deranged, and particularly criticized the violation of their fundamental human rights by mental health service providers.

The Founder of MHEI, Mr Zion Ameh, during  the media conference on Sunday in Abuja said “from the demeaning report by Human Rights Watch, thousands of people with mental health conditions are harboured in inhuman conditions. This indicated that the treatment by mental health services providers was unacceptable as it denied their rights as Nigerians.”

Mr Zion said that lack of effective and efficient mental health services in Nigeria has had serious socio-economic and productivity consequences. According to him, it has increased risk of low productivity, high rate of depression, stress, anxiety, suicide as well as inappropriate detention of people. He quoted the report as observing that it was “wrong to subject anyone to torture or inhuman treatment and nobody shall be held in slavery or servitude.

Read more HERE

Furthermore, on December 10, 2019, MHEI hosted CSOs & NGOs in Abuja to discuss about the proposed Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill where we all renewed our commitments to lead Mental health actions in Nigeria and collectively catalyze the demand for the human rights of people with mental illness across all sectors knowing fully well that “MENTAL HEALTH IS A HUMAN RIGHT TOO”. Nigeria still use the Lunacy Act of 1958 which is not tenable in any modern society, hence, the urgent need for a mental health reform in Nigeria which the proposed bill sets to achieve.

As a nation, for Nigeria to achieve a sustainable mentally healthy society, we need to use the universal health coverage (UHC) as a platform to advance mental health services in the country. Also, the government need to invest, educate and empower the citizens in the area of mental health.





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MHEI to host Mental Health CSOs/NGOs in a Round Table Discussion on the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill


In our bid to further strengthen mental health activities and services in Nigeria, ,tomorrow, December 10, 2019 we will be hosting a round-table discussion for Civil Society Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations working on Mental Health issues in Nigeria to discuss about the proposed “Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill”.

Time for practical ACTIONS!!



Happy #InternationalVolunteerDay We truly appreciate our volunteers and #mentalhealth advocates for your relentless efforts towards building a sustainable mentally healthy society for all. #Mentalhealthforall




DPTC Sensitization Training for Media Personnel in Abuja

We kicked off the first phase of the DPTC sensitization training  for Media organizations in Abuja on Drug use, Dependency, Prevention, Treatment and Care (DPTC). The 2-days (October 17th and 18th, 2019) sensitization training attended by 20 media practitioners is a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) project funded by the European Union to increase the understanding of the media in the dissemination of appropriate information on drug use and drug users in order to reduce the stigmatization and discrimination of drug users for them to access adequate treatment and care.

The training started with the registration of participants and showing of film review titled the Just Punishment, followed by pre-quiz on the knowledge attitude and perception about psychoactive substance among the participants. 

During the training, participants were introduced to the Drug Situation in Nigeria, Understanding of the Concept of Supply Reduction, Concept of Demand and Harm Reduction, Drugs and Effects, Understanding Drug Dependency, Causes of Drugs use and Associated Stigma, Types of Drug Treatments, Women Drug Users, People Who Inject Drugs, and Young Drug Users, Intervention and Responses to Drug Problems in the Family as well as Human Rights and Drug Users.



The Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative (MHEI) today organized the biggest Community Mental Health Outreach in Abuja, Nigeria to commemorate the 2019 World Mental Health Day (with the theme “Suicide Prevention”) usually marked worldwide on October 10 , in partnership with sister organizations such as Secure D Future (SDF), Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), Mentally Aware Initiative Nigeria (MANI), High Blood Pressure of Nigeria, Association of Medical Social Workers of Nigeria (AMSWON) among others.

The outreach which took place at L.E.A Primary School, Galadima, Abuja saw over 100 local dwellers from Galadima village, Gwarinpa Estate and Bwari Area Council of FCT-Abuja trooped out for free mental health assessment, blood pressure test, counseling, therapeutic and Yoga sessions.

Mr Zion Abba, founder, The Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative, while giving his welcome remarks decries the complex phenomenal of suicide rate in Nigeria as every 40 seconds somebody somewhere around the globe is committing suicide due to mental health issues. Abba said that the outreach also aimed to draw the attention of Nigerian government to invest more in mental health, empower and support the population to live a mentally healthy life. He also called for a tenable Mental Health Act, adding that there is need for a revamp of the mental health sector. “The mental health act would lead to the mainstreaming of mental health issues into primary, secondary and tertiary education. “There should be treatment centres where people can walk into and get mental health assessment,” Abba stressed.

Dr Audu Hadiza, who represented Dr. Taiwo Lateef, President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN) said “suicide is a public health challenge that must be taken seriously to reduce its effect in the society.” She called on religious organizations stand up and assist in counseling people to reduce the rate of suicides in the country.

She added that social integration is very critical to reduce this challenge, while the lack of values for our culture are the cause of all these; government alone cannot help the situation, therefore prominent Nigerians must assist as well. “The first way to tackle suicide is through awareness and sensitization while it is important that mental health is advocated for because research has shown that countries which has enormous economic challenges are at higher risk of suicide deaths.”

Meanwhile, the Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs Ene Obi during the outreach called on the Federal Government to invest in young Nigerians by tapping into the skills embedded in them. According to her, the skills embedded in the youths are dying and there is need for the government to tap into it in positive ways to disabuse the minds of young Nigerians from moving into other countries.


The outreach also witnessed an historical feat as traditional leaders and community dwellers join their voice with us on ongoing global #Speakyourmind campaign to combat the menace of suicide worldwide.

MHEI Projects News

Federal Ministry of Health Partners MHEI on Mental and Maternal Health

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi, has expressed the readiness of the Ministry to partner with the Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative (MHEI) in curbing the menace of mental disorder arising from drug abuse in Nigeria.

The Permanent Secretary made this known during our courtesy visit to his office to establish a coherent relationship with the Ministry in carrying out mental health and drug use related projects in Nigeria in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and European Union Commission (EUC).

While introducing the Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative, Mr. Zion Ameh, Founder, reiterated the need for the Federal Ministry of Health to promptly consider the holistic integration of mental health into Nigeria’s healthcare system. 

Mr. Zion also recapped to the Perm Sec, the urgent need of using his good office to drive the campaign of health financing for mental health in Nigeria in order to tackle the issue of out of pocket financing as it also relates to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and promote the advocacy for the integration of mental health funding into the global fund starting at the world leaders forthcoming 6th Replenishment Conference to commemorate October 10 World Mental Health Day 2019.


While expressing his pleasure about the activities of MHEI, Mr. Abdullahi assured the team that he had instructed the Director of Food and Drugs Department and other Directors to include mental health into the activities of the Federal Ministry of Health.

With deep appraisal for timely and important advocacy visit, the Perm Sec promised to facilitate the process of factoring mental health funding into the 2020 budget of the Federal Ministry of Health.