News / Health

'Inmates' Defy Stigma by Seeking Mental Health Care in Nigeria

'Inmates' Defy Stigma by Seeking Mental Health Care in Nigeriai
X
Heather Murdock
June 27, 2014 12:58 PM
Most Nigerians who suffer mental health problems never seek or are offered help. As doctors work to convince the public mental health problems can and should be treated, patients at one facility in northern Nigeria say they are among the lucky ones. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.

'Inmates' Defy Stigma by Seeking Mental Health Care in Nigeria

Heather Murdock

Most Nigerians who suffer mental health problems never seek or are offered help.  As doctors work to convince the public mental health problems can and should be treated, patients at one facility in northern Nigeria say they are among the lucky ones.  Half prison, half hospital, young men and women are treated for addictions and other mental maladies with hard work, counseling and prayer.  

Patients at this facility refer to themselves as ‘inmates’ and wear maroon scrubs as uniforms and handcuffs on their feet to keep them from running away.  They were committed by their parents or guardians, who also have the authority to set them free.

​Abraham Mohammad has been living here for almost a year and says he feels he has finally kicked a years-long addiction to cough syrup.

“When you are here for like a year you get full treatment, counseling, etc. etc.  You will be able to be strengthened fully.  Even in yourself you consider yourself now, tell yourself what you are supposed to do in the physical world,” he said.

Learning skills

Young men learn welding, sales and how to build everything from pots to sofas.

Young women learn to sew and make baby clothes.  The center offers long-distance learning classes and stalls where patients can sell what they make on the streets.

Lawal Muduru heads a rehabilitation center in northern Nigeria. He says, like most mental health facilities in Nigeria, his biggest challenge is to raise enough funds to keep it open, Kaduna, Nigeri, February 12, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)Lawal Muduru heads a rehabilitation center in northern Nigeria. He says, like most mental health facilities in Nigeria, his biggest challenge is to raise enough funds to keep it open, Kaduna, Nigeri, February 12, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)
x
Lawal Muduru heads a rehabilitation center in northern Nigeria. He says, like most mental health facilities in Nigeria, his biggest challenge is to raise enough funds to keep it open, Kaduna, Nigeri, February 12, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)
Lawal Muduru heads a rehabilitation center in northern Nigeria. He says, like most mental health facilities in Nigeria, his biggest challenge is to raise enough funds to keep it open, Kaduna, Nigeri, February 12, 2014. (Heather Murdock/VOA)

Lawal Muduru, who heads the center, says patients are treated by psychologists and traditional doctors and counseled by pastors and imams.  The hardest thing about keeping the center running, he says, is making enough money to feed the patients.

He says most parents pay $50 a month for their child's care, but many patients are abandoned by their families and remain at the center, spreading funds thin.

Overcoming stigma

Doctors say Muduru’s patients are among the minority of people getting any kind of mental health care in Nigeria, largely due to stigma associated with mental disease.  

“When people have diarrhea they are not isolated.  They do not suffer stigma.  But when they have diarrhea of words, of vocabulary, you want to isolate them.  That is when the stigma comes on,” explains Moses Ilo, a neuro-psychiatrist at the Wellington Clinic in Abuja.

He says partially because of stigma, most psychological programs in Nigeria are woefully under-funded.

And while the treatment may appear unconventional here, patients say even the chains on their ankles are meant to help.

"It is not just to molest or maltreat or anything.  It is for you to know that ‘Wow, freedom is this light for which many men died in darkness, said Mohammad. "Okay what if I am able to have this freedom again.  What will I do with it?’”

Other patients say they also appreciate the skills they are learning at the center, but like Mohammad, what they want most is to get better and remove the chains.  

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: portugal
June 27, 2014 11:43 AM
congratulation the state of Nigeria to creat new opportunities people with mental health

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid