Big changes in attitudes and approaches: mental health in Nigeria

Stories | April 26, 2022

CBM commissioned an independent evaluation of our community mental health program in Nigeria in April 2022. 

Using elements of CBM Global’s community mental health approach, the project has worked to ensure that people with mental health issues have better access to health care and support and that people with psychosocial disabilities can have a strong voice to improve their communities and reduce stigma.

For over 10 years, CBM has supported work in Benue State, and the evaluation reported that most of our ambitious goals here had been achieved.

With a population of over 200 million, Nigeria has only 250 psychiatrists, so our work has been focused on training general health workers to ensure they understand how to effectively support people with a range of mental health conditions. As a result, staff in nearly 100 community health centres are now trained, and 25,000 people have access to counselling, medication and support they would not have otherwise received.

Around 1,600 people are involved in self-help groups where they can access small loans, giving them opportunities to earn income. Our project teams have also worked to ensure that religious institutions and community groups support and include people with mental health conditions.


A man and women from Nigeria sit together
Image: Changes in attitudes and approaches: mental health in Nigeria

Our work is in a country where stigma and judgement against people with conditions like epilepsy, anxiety or depression is very high. We’ve worked with schools and teachers and set up school-based mental health clubs.

The evaluator was impressed by the students he met. “One school group told us about a student who had a seizure in the classroom. The teacher panicked and ran out of her classroom, only for her to watch from a distance as the student’s classmates went about carefully ensuring her safety and getting follow-up care. This is the change of attitude and approach that we are seeing.”

Read stories of change about Demesugh, Moses and Chief Harun.  

The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Program for Benue State is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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