Stigma and Mental Health in Nigeria: Some Suggestions for Law Reform

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe


Nigeria has a significant number of people with mental health challenges.  Unfortunately, this is perhaps the most neglected area of health in the country.  This paper argues that this neglect is both caused and exacerbated by stigma. Stigma remains the most basic, cultural and moral barrier to the relief of mental health challenges. As a result of this, human rights abuses with deep roots in the stigma attached to mental illness continue to flourish largely unrestrained, impacting negatively on the dignity of mentally disabled persons as human beings. In this Article, therefore, I discuss stigma, a key challenge that affects persons living with mental illness in Nigeria.  I review the effects of stigma and propose some reforms to law and the law making process as one way to reduce stigma and its adverse effects.

Keywords: mental health, stigma, mental illness, law reform, legislation, rights, discrimination.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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