On 2 November, Commonwealth Alumni in Abuja, Nigeria, attended a panel discussion on the challenges facing mental healthcare in Nigeria. The panel was comprised of speakers representing the health care sector, including representatives from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, National Mental Health Programme, and the Department of Mental Health, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital.  

Welcome remarks were delivered by Dr Nadeem Hasan, Head of Human Development and Demography, FCDO. He highlighted the work of the UK Government in partnering with Nigeria to support and strengthen the health sector and improve health security. He then opened the panel discussion. 


  • Dr Ojo Tunde Masseyferguson, National Coordinator, National Mental Health Programme    
  • Isaac Ali Maina, Head Clinical Psychology, Department of Mental Health, University of Abuja Teaching  
  • Agbanusi Ijeoma, Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Directorate 
  • Victoria Shoyombo (2012 Distance Learning Scholar), Director, Blue Iris Health Care 

Panellists discussed the prevalence of stigma on mental health due to beliefs and culture and the importance of raising awareness around well-being and mental health to address stigma by leveraging stakeholders in faith-based organisation and institutions. Challenges regarding the shortage of trained mental health workers and inclusion of mental health and psychiatry in the curriculum and limited funding for mental health research were also raised. 

In addressing strategies to improve mental health support and access, panellists suggested improvements to communication and coordination between ministries representing the healthcare system in Nigeria and an increased of technology to manage patient records. They also proposed building collaborations with wider health organisation.  

The discussion was followed by a Q&A and closing remarks.