Despite the role of non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) in many health issues, their role in community mental health
services in parts of northern Nigeria is unknown. This study explored the availability
and role of NGOs in community-mental health care services, with a view to identifying
the prospects and challenges. Using the convergent mixed methods approach, a self-constructed
questionnaire and in-depth interviews were used to collect data from 205 conveniently
and purposively selected study participants. Descriptive and thematic analyses were
done and then triangulated to meet research objectives. There is a scarcity of mental
health-related NGOs in the study areas; only one NGO engaged in the mental health
activities was identified (13.4%). Surprisingly attempts by the only available NGO
at providing the needed community-based mental health care were “frustrated” by certain government policy directions, which
appear to paralyse activities and intentions of the only existing one. NGOs for
mental health care are lacking. There is a dire need for NGO activities in mental
health care. Efforts should be made to attract NGOs to the study areas in view of
the increasing burden of mental health issues in the communities in the setting.
Governments at all levels, community-based organisations and traditional institutions
can be instrumental to this. NGOs within and outside the study areas focusing on
community health in general and mental health care, in particular, may also interrogate
this situation further for urgent intervention.
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