Up to 60 million Nigerians are estimated to be at risk of suffering from depression, according to a groundbreaking national report on depression.
The shocking finding is contained in the Nigeria National Depression Report produced by the Chude Jideonwo led Joy, Inc. in collaboration with NOIPolls to mark the 2018 World Mental Health Day.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world and the total number of people suffering from depression and/or anxiety disorders have increased from 416 million in 1990 to 615 million in 2013.
In Nigeria, it is estimated that 3 out of every 10 Nigerians have experienced depressive symptoms. The Nigeria National Depression Report, the first of its kind in Nigeria, contains results from a nation-wide happiness and depression survey conducted across all the 36 states in Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The survey also focused on measuring the public perception of Nigerians regarding their happiness and their experiences with factors likely to affect their state of happiness and depression.
The interviews were conducted by telephone, in five major Nigerian languages: English, Pidgin English, Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. At least 1,000 interviews were conducted across each state of the federation.
According to the survey, the majority of respondents defined happiness as having their basic needs of met. On the other hand, the second largest group of respondents defined happiness as having peace of mind.
On average, many Nigerians expressed that they were more satisfied with their lives fives years ago than they currently are. Just as many Nigerians are hopeful that they will be better satisfied with life five years from now.
About 31.6% of polled respondent reported experiencing depressive symptoms; to put this in perspective, 3 out of every 10 Nigerians are at risk of depression. Meanwhile, 27.8% of respondents reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety.
The report recommended for Nigeria to be proactive in tackling issues of mental and emotional health, specifically by reviewing the national mental health policy and creating a viable legislative framework to meet global standards.
The report has also suggested funding public education to influence the culture to one that promotes resilience and creates safe spaces for emotional and mental healing.
Damola Morenikeji, a research associate at Joy, Inc. has said that “Human misery is real, the goal of every intervention should be to reduce misery while increasing the happiness of people. Investing in citizens’ happiness and well-being should not be a luxury, but a necessity.”
He added that “The collective roles of governments, businesses, and other stakeholders have to transcend from creating an environment purely for wealth creation to creating environments that facilitate the genuine well-being and flourishing of people.”