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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 22-23

Shortage of psychiatrists: A barrier to effective mental health-care delivery in Nigeria

Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Date of Submission01-Mar-2020
Date of Acceptance10-Mar-2020
Date of Web Publication31-Mar-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Chidiebere Emmanuel Okechukwu
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, Rome 00185
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jncd.jncd_1_20

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How to cite this article:
Okechukwu CE. Shortage of psychiatrists: A barrier to effective mental health-care delivery in Nigeria. Int J Non-Commun Dis 2020;5:22-3

How to cite this URL:
Okechukwu CE. Shortage of psychiatrists: A barrier to effective mental health-care delivery in Nigeria. Int J Non-Commun Dis [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Feb 3];5:22-3. Available from: https://www.ijncd.org/text.asp?2020/5/1/22/281669


There is significant negligence of mental health care in Nigeria pertaining to the shortage in the number of psychiatrists in Nigeria. Nigeria has an estimated population of >200 million people, with about 250 psychiatrists currently practicing in the West African country, according to the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria.[1] There is a need to implement efficient mental health interventions that can enable quick and smooth access to mental healthcare services in Nigeria, hence minimizing the effects of untreated mental health disorders among young Nigerians.[2] However, this cannot be achieved with the current shortage of psychiatrists in Nigeria because psychiatrists are medically trained to prevent, diagnose, and treat mental illnesses. A high number of young Nigerian medical doctors are migrating to developed countries in search of greener pastures as a result of low remunerations in Nigeria compared to the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and Canada. Many Nigerian psychiatrists have abandoned the country to practice in developed countries that offer much better incentives. Mental health literacy is very low among Nigerian teachers and adolescents.[3],[4] A cross-sectional descriptive survey was carried out among undergraduate students of the University of Nigeria, to assess their knowledge of schizophrenia and help-seeking behavior, and the result of the survey revealed poor mental health literacy among the students, which is attributed to inadequate mental health promotion in Nigeria.[5] However, this justifies the need for the Nigerian government to finance and develop its mental health-care sector by funding the training of psychiatrists, and improving the salary and welfare packages of already trained psychiatrists in order to encourage young Nigerian medical graduates to specialize in psychiatry and practice in the country.

There are limited information and studies on the state of mental healthcare delivery in Nigeria. There is a need for the Nigerian government to fund mental health research to determine the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in Nigeria and to set-aside effective prevention and treatment measures. Proper and up to date training on the advances in psychiatry and mental health should be regularly provided to mental health-care personnel in Nigeria. Non-governmental organizations should be encouraged to play active roles in the promotion, prevention, and rehabilitation of mental disorders in Nigeria. There is a need to reduce the health-related financial burden on families in Nigeria through an efficient coverage of psychiatric illnesses in national health insurance. However, effective mental health-care service delivery should be maintained nationwide through primary health care. Primary health care workers should be educated on mental health to ensure the efficient management of mental illnesses in Nigeria. However, these interventions could be more effective if Nigeria starts training more psychiatrists, and by encouraging the already trained psychiatrists to stay and practice in the country.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria. Available from: http://www.apn.org.ng/. [Last accessed on 2020 Jan 29].  Back to cited text no. 1
Juma K, Wekesah FM, Kabiru CW, Izugbara CO. Burden, drivers, and impacts of poor mental health in young people of west and central Africa: Implications for research and programming. In: McLean M, editors. West African Youth Challenges and Opportunity Pathways. Gender and Cultural Studies in Africa and the Diaspora. London: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. Springer International Publishing; 2020. p. 233-65.  Back to cited text no. 2
Aluh DO, Dim OF, Anene-Okeke CG. Mental health literacy among Nigerian teachers. Asia Pac Psychiatry 2018;10:e12329.  Back to cited text no. 3
Aluh DO, Anyachebelu OC, Anosike C, Anizoba EL. Mental health literacy: What do Nigerian adolescents know about depression? Int J Ment Health Syst 2018;12:8.  Back to cited text no. 4
Aluh DO, Okonta MJ, Odili VU. Cross-sectional survey of mental health literacy among undergraduate students of the University of Nigeria. BMJ Open 2019;9:e028913.  Back to cited text no. 5

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