The Rise of Mental Health Illnesses amongst the Youth in Africa: A Case Study of Nigeria.

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The Rise of Mental Health Illnesses amongst the Youth in Africa: A Case Study of Nigeria.

The Rise of Mental Health Illnesses amongst the Youth in Africa: A Case Study of Nigeria.

Name: Ugochukwu Fortune Agwu
Affiliation: Alice-Salomon-Hochschule Berlin
Address: Alice-Salomon-Platz 5
12627 Berlin,
Phone: +49 30 99 245-0, Fax: +49 30 99 245-245, E-Mail:


This concept paper examined the unprecedented rise in mental health illnesses among the youth in Africa, using Nigeria as a study unit. According to the reviewed literature, mental health illness is one of the major challenges the world at large is facing, though the situation is worse in African countries due to the number of economic social challenges common in Africa. Nigeria is one of the African countries which has the highest number of mental health disorders especially among the youth. This study reveals that social factors such as poverty, drug and alcohol abuse as well as to genetic causes, are the major causes of mental health illnesses in Nigeria. Other factors are the traditional beliefs that most mental illnesses are caused by spiritual attacks initiated by people practicing witchcraft and or by evil spirits. This has led to patients shunning seeking conventional medical treatment, but instead going to traditional doctors. Operational issues, such as lack of trained or professional personnel to manage mental institutions as well as inadequate funding which leads to the shortage of essential drugs in mental hospitals, are the main challenges faced by the Nigerian government. Stigmatizing and demonisation of mental health patients is another challenge in the treatment of mental patients. However, through research, the Nigerian government, in collaboration with WHO, has prioritized the management of mental health treatment through integration of mental health services into primary care as opposed to the common practice of treating mental illnesses at tertiary level. However, despite all the efforts put in place by government, treatment of mental health illness has remained one of the biggest challenges in the Nigerian society due to poverty and stigma.

Keywords: Mental health, mental illnesses, stigma.

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