Mental Health First Aider Fellowship -
Mental Health First Aider Fellowship


The History of Mental health in Nigeria dates to ancient times when traditional healing practices and spiritual beliefs were the primary approaches to mental illness. Simultaneously, Nigeria has a history of neglecting mental health, with little attention given to the issue and few resources allocated to mental health services. In Nigeria, a country with a population of around 181 million, over 60 million people (about twice the population of Texas) or approximately 30 percent of the population are believed to be affected by Mental illnesses says Taiwo Obindo, President of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria. A survey revealed that Nigeria was ranked as the country with the highest prevalence of depression in Africa. Nigeria ranks 15th in the world for the frequency of suicide and There are less than 150 psychiatrists in the country of 200 million people.

The different forms of Mental Health Conditions include Anxiety disorders, Depression, PTSD, Eating Disorder, Schizophrenia, OCD, Personality Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Paranoia, Impulse Control Disorder, Phobias, Mental illness, amongst others. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a whopping 20% of Nigerians or around 40 million people (about twice the population of New York) are affected by mental health, this means one out of five persons in Nigeria is affected.

Following the KPMG ranking on the rising social and economic cost of major depression, Australia had a high burden percentage of 8.0 with an access to healthcare facility of 13.5, this is closely followed by China Mainland with 2.9% with an access of 2.2%, Hong Kong has 3.9% with an access of 4.5, Japan 2.3% with an access of 11.9, Korea 2.3% with an access of 5.8% and Taiwan has a 1.8% with a 7.5% access. These all point to the overbearing effect of Mental health challenges around the World with little access to healthcare.

According to the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigerians (APN) 2023, the most pressing issue with regards to mental health in Nigeria is the shortage of mental health professionals. Only about 200 psychiatrists and 1000 psychiatric nurses serve over 200 million people in Nigeria, whereas the standard practice is for one psychiatric doctor to care for 10,000 patients (about the seating capacity of Cameron basketball stadium at Duke University). Beyond psychiatrists, there is also a shortage of psychologists in the country. Psychologists are key professionals in providing services for people with mental conditions such as behavioral problems, learning difficulties, depression, and anxiety. Currently, there are only 319 licensed clinical psychologists that are registered with the Nigerian Association of Clinical Psychologists (NACP) which is estimated that there could be 400 - 500 clinical psychologists in Nigeria.

According to the needs assessment carried out by The Restored Heart Foundation, out of the 30 respondents: 30% of the respondents fell within the age range of 18-24 years, 60% were between the ages of 25-30, 6.7% were within the age range of 31-35 and the remaining 3.3% were from 35-40 years. All the respondents are Nigerians with 80% of them living in Nigeria and 20% living outside Nigeria. A larger percentage of the respondents live in Abuja, with others from Gombe, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Anambra, Bayelsa, Kogi, Kano, Imo, Lagos, Oyo, Ondo and Ogun.

We found out that out of the 30 respondents, 80% said they feel young people living in Nigeria are interested in mental health care, while 20% of the respondents said young people living in Nigeria are not interested in mental health care. When asked to give further reasons for their thoughts on why young people living in Nigeria are not interested in mental health care, the following were the responses given by the respondents: limited availability opportunities in mental health including job opportunities, being less concerned, lack of awareness on mental health, misconception of mental health problem meaning being mentally unstable and lack of interest to gain more knowledge on mental health. 20% of the respondents mentioned anxiety disorder as an issue they think young people suffer from in Nigeria, 40% mentioned depression, 30% mentioned emotional and behavioral Problems and 10% of respondents stated PTSD.

  • Overview

    The Restored Heart Foundation's Mental Health First-Aider Fellowship is a mental health development program designed to educate and empower young adults to utilize capacity building, creativity, conversations and collaborations to create awareness, advocate and provide mental support to communities in Nigeria. Fellows would receive an intensive virtual learning experience on evidence-based practices in Mental health and would carry out a change project in communities where they can lead and make an impact. These fellows would be tutored and supervised by licensed, professional and seasoned clinical psychologists, educators, therapists and thought leaders. This Fellowship is set to run within a period of Six Months, this is because the module is designed to cascade new topics weekly throughout the period of the fellowship. A call for Application would be put out on social media platforms; for the maiden edition of the fellowship, a total of 500 young people is expected to apply. A thorough selection process through the selection rubric would be carried out. There would be weekly training sessions where skilled facilitators would take fellows through the various mental health topics as drafted in the curriculum, there are also case studies to be treated and modelled which will form part of the assignment and assessments. Subsequently, Fellows would carry out a change project in their communities and upon completion, the fellowship's graduation ceremony would be.


Our Goal is to contribute 5% to the growth of mental health support in communities in Nigeria through democratization of expertise

  • Objectives

    1. To inspire young people to become Mental Health First Aiders
    • Develop case studies on topical issues for fellows to study and come up with solutions on
    • Hold induction and graduation ceremony for fellows upon commencement and completion of the course modules
    • Subgrant fellows to execute change projects that promotes mental health care

    2. To equip Fellows with the skills and tools to provide Mental Health Support
    • Partner with MANI to provide seasoned facilitators to cascade learning
    • Create a curriculum that can be cascaded for training sessions
    • Administer weekly assessments to fellows on topics cascaded.

    3. To train Mental Health First aiders to implement projects that will address Mental Health issues in their communities.
    • Organize training sessions for fellows on project management, social change communication, budgeting, and resource mobilization
    • Implement change project by the Fellows of the Mental Health First Aid Fellowship
    • Monitor and evaluate change projects implemented by fellows.

  • Expected Outcomes

    • Increase in number of young People who are interested in carrying out Mental Health First aid.
    • Increased knowledge and skills among young people on Mental health issues and support.
    • Improve the level of mental health support through community change projects.


Activity Breakdown

To commence the Mental Health First Aid Fellowship, A call for application will be out where fellows would be selected based on their motivation, their motivation would be measured by the motivation essays they write, Videos and track records from social media. Out of the 500 applications expected, 25 fellows would be selected through a thorough selection rubric. A curriculum with various modules has been designed to be used throughout the 6-month period, where classes would be held once a week, preferably on Friday evenings. There would be an onboarding session and an induction ceremony. For vivid learning during the fellowship, the facilitators would cascade learning using case studies, Individual and group assignments for bonding, videographic /PowerPoint slides for presentation. As a requirement to graduate, Fellows would embark on a change project and send reports from the change project. They will be sub granted and A project visit would be embarked upon, and A graduation ceremony and Certificates would be presented to close the fellowship.

  • High Level Activities

      A Call for Application would be put out on social media, for young people who are passionate about Mental health, and would be carefully selected through a selection rubric where 25 persons would emerge and will constitute the Mental health First aider Fellowship.

      A curriculum would be developed with various Modules on the different Mental Health challenges ranging from Depression, Trauma, Anxiety Disorder, etc. This will give in-depth knowledge to Fellows on how to administer first aid to anyone experiencing Mental health challenge in their community.

      A change project will be carried out by Fellows in their community as a criterion to graduation and completing the fellowship.

      Fellows will attend classes, once every week preferably on (Friday or Saturday) for a period of two hours, where they would be trained on Mental health topics, project management, social change communication, budgeting, and resource mobilization. They would also be given case studies where assignments and assessments would be graded. Attendance is Mandatory for fellows. These weekly training sessions will be facilitated by experts in those fields.

      There would be an induction and an onboarding session for fellows to begin the fellowship and a graduation ceremony to mark the end of the fellowship for fellows who meet the criteria.

Call For Application

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