The burden of mental illness in Nigeria is high. Close to 30% of its populace are affected with one form of emotional illness or the other.
Mental health issue- Depression, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is now a leading cause of mortality world wide (after heart disease and cancer). Mental Health issues constitute 6 out of 10 common illnesses that cause disabilities worldwide.
As high as this burden is, it is unfortunate that, there are no adequate manpower to manage it in Nigeria. Nigeria, as a country of about 200millions populace has just about 200 Psychiatrists (meaning a ratio of 1psychiatrist:1million populace). This, thus leaves a huge mental health gap. In addition to this, the stigma surrounding mental illness makes the sufferers not to present early to the hospitals for care but would rather patronize the local or traditional healers. Some seek spiritual help due to myths surrounding the causes of mental illness. Those who eventually make it to orthodox care centres are not able to pull through with the care as they have to pay out of their pockets (due to no budgetary allocation to mental health). As at the time of writing this report. Nigeria is unfortunately still part of the very few nations in Africa that is yet to have a new mental health law. This has in a great way affected the delivery of efficient mental health services.
The high rate of unemployment, poverty, youths unrest, political instability has directly and indirectly increased the rate of suicide in the country. These plights of Nigerians coupled with low mental health education, low accessibility, affordability, and availability of mental health services prompted Dr. Oluseun Peter OGUNNUBI in 2011 to found a health-based non governmental organization whose mandate will be to provide health care, especially mental healthcare for the so called “common man” or indigent citizen of Nigeria. The organization would later be known as the Real Visionaries Initiative (RVI).
The RVI since inception has kept to his original mandate of:
1. Disseminating health information (especially mental health education) via different platforms (Mind and Mental Matters on: WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube).
2. Offering free health consultancy services to corporate and religious organizations and providing free medication to the less privileged, and;
3. Forming partnerships with other NGOs in Nigeria by providing psychosocial supports to survival of natural or man made disasters.
The RVI next vision is to provide free mental health medications to 1000 indigent Nigerians suffering from mental illness. This Drug Intervention Scheme tagged “REALDIS 1000”- will kick off on October 10, 2020 to mark the year WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY, 2020.