Opportunities for Improving Mental Health Delivery in Nigeria

In June 2014, I returned home to Nigeria for my first real visit in 10 years. This visit was distinctly different from my previous ultra-brief visits in that I was well established in my career and have a green card – in itself a small, but extremely significant difference. My objectives were twofold – my primary goal was to reconnect with family, old friends and training institutions – the elements interwoven in the fabric of my upbringing, and secondly, but just as importantly, to look for opportunities to contribute my expertise towards the improvement of mental health in Nigeria. It was also significant in being my 10-year-old daughter’s first trip to the land of her parents’ birth.

Having read the reports published by Patel et al in the Lancet series on global mental health in 2008, I was acutely aware of the shortage of mental health professionals in the developing world, including Nigeria. As with many contemporaries, I was, and remain keenly interested in serving as a resource to making available what I had learned. Rather than engage in quantitative research, I decided to get a street-level sense of what was both needed and feasible.In order to do this, I conducted several informal surveys using a qualitative interview style.

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