An analysis of the emergency response in Northeastern Nigeria and its ability to contribute to sustained mental health care reform
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The conflict in Northeastern Nigeria has left the region with an increasing death toll of 20,000 and has caused mass displacement of over 2.3 million(1)(2). The impacts of conflict are far reaching and has adverse consequences on the mental health of affected populations(3). Nigeria’s mental health system does not have the structure or resources to accommodate its mental health burden. Translating the emergency response in Northeastern Nigeria into sustained improved mental health care may be useful toward implementation of Nigeria’s mental health policy and nationwide mental health reform. The purpose of this thesis is to analyze how the emergency response in Northeastern Nigeria may be leveraged to contribute toward an improved mental health system. A literature review was conducted in order to review case studies of regions which have strengthened their mental health systems after and during an emergency. Additionally, best practices for mental health systems strengthening were reviewed. Findings show that a strengthened mental health system may be achieved by the government making an early commitment to seizing the emergency response as an opportunity to reach this goal. The emergency response could adopt key strategies such as developing a local workforce and using established tools to guide service provision. Additionally, the investment of key stakeholders and a commitment toward decentralization and scaling up community-based services is recommended. Such an approach may be beneficial toward improved mental health care in Northeastern Nigeria and may be useful to Nigeria as a whole.
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