Psychiatrists per 100,000 population in Africa and US

If the US Lacks Resources, What Does Mental Health Care in Nigeria Look Like?

Considering the numbers above, where the US has a little over 10 psychiatrists per 100,000 people, and we know that we still have many, many, seriously mentally ill patients living on the streets, or coming and going from the streets to the prison system, because they cannot access care, or cannot be monitored to follow through with care, and taking medications, etc. I suppose the article below about Nigeria, where I found that graphic, probably shouldn’t surprise me. Yet, I think anyone with a conscience would be shocked by this:

“The cases in the north is a reflection of what is happening in Nigeria. This issue of locking up mentally ill people and maltreating them is a widespread issue across the country,” head of the psychiatrists’ union, Dr Taiwo Lateef, told the BBC.

From –Why some Nigerian families lock up children and the mentally ill

In the article there’s even a story of a man who was chained up in a room with no windows for 30 years, who suffered from psychosis. Which is terrible.

But, isn’t this just the same stigma we have here too? Is it any “better” that we have people living on the streets or in prison when they suffer from psychosis or delusions? Aren’t we just locking them away in a different way, because we understand that we don’t actually have any way to help them, so we just want to ignore the issue?

In Nigeria, there is less than one psychiatrist per 100,000 people. 0.15, in fact. There is no rational way that someone suffering with psychosis in Nigeria is going to get professional help with those kinds of numbers, yet rather than coming together to support the families involved, they feel so much shame about having a “sick” family member that they try and hide them away for years, or completely abandon them to the streets.

Which, isn’t much different than what we do. We have more resources, but it’s not even close to enough to help everyone dealing with serious mental illness, so instead of coming together as a community to support families, and patients, we look the other way while they live on the streets, or get locked away in jail with zero treatment.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Until we learn to value the life of everyone regardless of their mental health status, we will not put in the effort required to find a better way.” quote=”Until we learn to value the life of everyone regardless of their mental health status, we will not put in the effort required to find a better way.”]

That better way involves coming up with not only more resources and professionals, but also the support and kindness towards families that would allow them to be in a better position to help their loved ones. If we continue to look upon mental health issues with stigma, we will not be motivated to find those solutions, we will stay motivated to ignore the problem, and hide actual human beings away from our little worlds. Or, in some cases, simply chain them up in windowless rooms for years all across the world.


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