Therapists are using Twitter to bring mental health care to Nigeria in the northeastern region. This region has seen violence by militant group Boko Haram as it continues to gain power and presence, plaguing residents, with ongoing, unpredictable violence. As the ISIS affiliate seeks to gain more territory, the crisis has led to over 20,000 deaths and the displacement of over 1.8 million people.
Nearly all residents have been affected somehow by the group’s use of brutal violence including executions, kidnappings, arson, and rape. Yet there is only one mental health hospital in the northeast.
Nigeria only has eight public neuropsychiatric facilities spread throughout the country, leaving nonprofits like Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative, or MANI, to take up the bulk of mental health care to Nigeria, with significant outreach via social media, by tapping into platforms like Whatsapp and Twitter to reach those in need. With approximately 103 million Nigerians online, NGOs are finding new ways to reach clients in need of mental health interventions. Through WhatsApp and small group chat meetings, MANI provides mental health first aid.