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Confronting youth depression in Nigeria

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By Abraham Adekunle

Initiative leads study to address mental health disparities among NEET youth.

The Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative (MHEI), a non-governmental organization, is conducting a groundbreaking study on depression among youths not in Education, employment, or training (NEET) in the Niger Delta region. In collaboration with local and international academics and institutions, the study aims to understand the challenges faced by these young people and propose solutions to mitigate the risk of depression. With over 60% of Africa’s population under 25, the study highlights the crucial role young people play in driving economic activity and Sustainable Development.

MHEI Founder and President, Mr. Zion Ameh Abba, emphasized the urgency of addressing Mental Health disparities among NEET youths, citing the devastating impact of depression on this demographic. “We are gathered here today to shed light on a critical issue affecting African youths in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria and South Africa,” stated Abba. “The prevalence of depression among those who find themselves not in education, employment, or training, commonly referred to as NEET, is critical and demands urgent attention.”

Study involved more than 1000 youths from different states in Nigeria, SA.

Involving 600 youths from Rivers and Bayelsa States in Nigeria and another 1,000 in South Africa, the study employs a mixed-methods approach to identify resilience-building factors that positively impact NEET youths’ mental well-being. The findings will underscore the need for targeted interventions and inform the development of strategies to address mental health disparities. Lead researcher Professor Linda Theron from the University of Pretoria and Nigeria focal lead Dr. Zainab Mai-Borun from the University of Leicester aim to identify factors that could mitigate the risk of depression among these youths.

Its significance is underscored by the alarming statistics on youth depression in Nigeria. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 60% of Nigerians experience mental health disorders, with depression being a leading cause of morbidity among young people. The consequences of untreated depression among youths can be devastating, leading to substance abuse, suicidal tendencies, and reduced Productivity. Abba advocates for the full implementation of the Mental Health Act 2021 across the Niger Delta and Nigeria, calling for collaboration and support from government health institutions, media outlets, NGOs, youth councils, traditional and religious leaders, and community-based organisations.

It’s a crucial step towards addressing mental health challenges.

“We are specifically calling for collaborations from government health institutions,” Abba emphasized. He believes that the findings will underscore the urgent need for targeted interventions to address mental health disparities among this demographic. The study’s methodology involves a mixed-methods approach, combining surveys with interviews and focus group discussions. This approach will provide a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by NEET youths and the resilience-building factors that positively impact their mental well-being. The study’s findings will inform the development of evidence-based solutions to support the mental health and well-being of NEET youths in Nigeria and South Africa.

As well, MHEI’s initiative is a crucial step towards addressing the mental health disparities among NEET youths in Nigeria. By shedding light on the critical issue of depression among this demographic, the study will inform the development of targeted interventions and strategies to support their mental health and well-being. As Abba earlier emphasized, “We must act now to address the mental health disparities among our young people. The future of our continent depends on it.”

Related Article: Depression, the leading cause of suicide

To sum up, the Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative’s study on depression among NEET youths in Nigeria is a groundbreaking effort to address mental health disparities among this demographic. With the support of local and international academics and institutions, the study aims to identify resilience-building factors that positively impact NEET youths’ mental well-being. The findings will underscore the need for targeted interventions and inform the development of strategies to address mental health disparities. By working together, we can support the mental health and well-being of NEET youths in Nigeria and contribute to a brighter future for our continent.


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