"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

What we learned from callers on the hotline.

Emergency hotlines have a crucial role to play in improving access to mental health services, especially in countries where these services are scarce.


This is the case of Nigeria where in a the study One in 4 people reported a number of varieties of mental illness. There are fewer than 150 psychologists in a rustic of 200 million people, and Less than 10% Mentally in poor health Nigerians have access to the care they need. This treatment gap is the results of a shortage of mental health professionals. Neuropsychiatric Hospital.

Nigeria has not actively pursued hotlines to assist people in need of mental health support. This idea is comparatively latest in developing countries including Nigeria. Mental health disorders often go untreated, or seek treatment. Alternative health providers.

In 2017, the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital launched an initiative to forestall suicide through research, crisis intervention, health education and early treatment for depression and substance abuse. Based in Nigeria Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative Establish a hotline system in Nigeria to answer those in need of mental health services. The initiative now has a presence in 35 out of 36 states, including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, and has branches in 51 health facilities within the country.

The initiative trained counselors to receive calls, handle mental health cases, and refer complex individuals to mental health professionals. They also provide follow-up to those that are counselled, ensuring that their needs are met.

We did. research Analyzing data collected between March 2022 and September 2023 on hotline usage. We focused on this time-frame since the hotline was upgraded to a toll-free system at the moment, with a dashboard for extensive call monitoring.

The results showed that the majority of the calls received were from the Southwest geopolitical zone. There was a big gender disparity in calls, with more male callers from the southern region and more female callers from the northern region. There were more callers from Christians and the unemployed.

The majority of calls (71.41%) focused on receiving mental health services. We concluded from this that there may be considerable demand and use of the hotline. The focused nature of the calls, including diverse demographics, further suggests that the hotline is effectively providing critical mental health services to a broad and diverse Nigerian population.


The focus of our research was to evaluate the usefulness of the hotline service, who used it and for what purpose.

After the hotline number was upgraded to a toll-free number, it was advertised on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Radio broadcasting was used to tell the general public of phone numbers to call in the event that they needed mental health services.

The Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative team also consulted with community stakeholders to achieve their support for the project.

The hotline was open 24 hours a day. Calls may be made within the three major Nigerian languages ​​– Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa – in addition to English and Pidgin.

During the period through which we collected data, 717 calls were received. Of these, 512 (71%) intended to hunt mental health services with the caller.

The primary categories of callers were:

  • 78% were from the southern states of Nigeria.

  • 56% of the calls were from men.

  • Almost half (51%) of callers across all geopolitical zones were between the ages of 18 and 27.

  • The variety of single callers was about 72.9 percent.

  • Most of the callers were unemployed.

  • More than 60% of the callers were in crisis – they reported severe cases of tension, suicidal ideation and attempts, and violent behavior.

Way forward

The use of emergency hotlines to supply mental health services is comparatively latest in Nigeria. This is in contrast to America, where they’ve been. Used for decades.

Our research shows that folks are willing to hunt mental health services outside of formal health facilities. This is a big advantage considering the limited variety of mental health facilities and health professionals serving the massive population in need of care. However, we call for studies to guage the associated fee of providing mental health services through hotlines.

The study also highlights the necessity for increased advocacy efforts to encourage people to make use of free emergency hotline services. This is particularly essential for residents of the northern a part of Nigeria, where its use was the least.

The research lends weight to the case being made by mental health advocates, The researchers and civil society organizations for more hotline services.

While addressing the basis causes of mental illness (similar to unemployment) is significant, there may be also a necessity for tailored interventions to focus on at-risk populations, particularly in settings where they’re most vulnerable.