Mental Health Perceptions in Nigeria: The Role of Mass Media

Mental health is globally attracting attention from individuals from all walks of life due to its importance and indispensability in the existence of mankind and in national development; as good mental health is wealth and progress. Despite this tremendous interest in mental health globally as an important aspect of human health, unfortunately, in Nigeria, this health concept has to an alarming degree been neglected, misconstrued, misinterpreted, and misrepresented by many. A problem that many have ascribed to different factors such as neglect, beliefs, cultural dispositions, lack of understanding of the concept of mental health, fear of stigmatization, and economic factors, as well as the mass media’s (films) negative depictions/portrayals of mental health.

The study looked at the concept of mental health as revealed by many scholars and organizations, and its importance to the existence of mankind; looked at the roles and benefits of mass media in health promotion by describing the place of films in education, entertainment, awareness creation in Nigeria; highlighted the differences between mental health and mental illness and provided different types of mental health challenges; looked at the widely held perceptions of mental health by individuals in Nigeria, and at the role of mass media (films) in awareness creation and promotion of mental health; highlighted certain prevailing circumstances complicating the knowledge and promotion of mental health and admittances in Nigeria- ranging from fear of stigmatization, economic constraints, fear of exorcism and banishment, cultural beliefs and ideologies, beliefs in supernatural treatment and cure; and provided a way forward.

Keywords: Mental health1; Mass Media2; Films3; Perceptions4