Public psychiatric hospitals and services in Nigeria
A lot of people ask me about where they can get psychiatric services in Nigeria, and I've been meaning to make a list for a long time. And now, here it is.
But first, a few things.
First, allow me to give you a brief history of psychiatric services in Nigeria, as this helps explain the way I categorise the hospitals and why I think that may be more helpful for most people.
Also, if you find this list helpful or have any feedback or ideas to improve it, please feel free to let me know in the comments or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to book a paid session to help you figure this out, also email me.
Lastly, figuring out where to get help is only a first step, albeit a key one. Another important step is remembering key questions to ask. I’ve got you there too, though: here’s a downloadable checklist:
(If you know this history already and want to cut to the chase, I've got you — click here to jump straight to the list.)
This history is useful, though, because it helps you understand why things are the way they are at the moment. For instance, in Lagos (and many people don't seem to realise this), there are at least 5 other government centres in Lagos where psychiatric services can be accessed besides the one that everyone knows…
The Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital at Yaba (colloquially named "Yaba Left" for its position on the left of the one-way that runs parallel to Yaba market).
There's a reason why the hospital at Yaba, and other similar ones, such as the one at Aro, Abeokuta are widely known: they are standalone psychiatric hospitals.
How dedicated (or standalone) psychiatric hospitals came to be
The hospital at Yaba, for example, began life in 1907 as Yaba Lunatic Asylum, and like most asylums then, its primary purpose was to serve as a holding place for the mentally ill, keeping them off the streets and out of the way of "normal" people. This was not out of wickedness: there was at the time, little in the way of medical treatment for mental illnesses.
Unfortunately, first impressions last, and modern psychiatric hospitals are still seen by many as asylums. That's why you read of newspapers calling in-patients "inmates" and describing their admission as being "detained" and their discharge as "release." (I kid you not: I've seen all three terms in one single newspaper report before.)
Those terms are anachronistic: they applied back in the day, but not anymore.
Well, in the 1950s, the first modern antipsychotics were developed, and then more antidepressants came to the fore as well. Suddenly it was possible to treat some of the most severe mental illnesses, and psychiatric services shifted from being merely about holding people to helping and healing them. Asylums were transformed to hospital, including the Yaba Lunatic Asylum, which was renamed first to Yaba Mental Hospital and later to Psychiatric Hospital.
But standalone hospitals are not the only kind of psychiatric services.
How multispecialist hospitals came to be
There are other hospitals where psychiatric services are available, but many of these seem low-key because they're run as psychiatric departments or units side-by-side with all the other units in the hospital. That is, they are part of a multispecialist hospital model.
This is an important point, because that's the way the world is going with psychiatry services: from standalone centres descended from the asylums of old, to psychiatric services being offered as part of multispecialist centres.
Psychiatric services as part of multispecialist hospitals arose out of what is known as the deinstitutionalisation movement, beginning in the 1960s. The goal of the movement was basically to make mental health services less about dedicated "institutions" in which patients would kept out of the way for long months and years, and more about short stays (days and weeks) for treating their illness and getting them quickly back in the community.
As you might guess, deinstitutionalisation was driven by the same forces that turned asylums to hospitals: the availability of effective medical treatment for mental disorders. It was also driven by a growing understanding of the relationship between mental health and physical problems (including the simple fact that having depression doesn't stop you from having, say, diabetes). Deinstitutionalisation hasn't been perfect (community integration hasn't gone as smoothly as hoped) but on the whole, it's been very helpful.
So psychiatric services in multispecialist centres come with the following triple advantage…
Giving people with mental illness easy access to physical healthcare services, and not just be treated for mental illness at the expense of their physical health
Alleviating the stigma associated with going to a standalone centre (it's easier to say you're going to LUTH than to Yaba)
Giving everyone the chance to see mental illness up close, which also helps reduce public stigma
List of Psychiatric Hospitals
I've categorised this list as I think most intuitive. So first, government hospitals in Lagos, because it's Nigeria's economic capital and most populated city. Then I separated dedicated (standalone) psychiatric hospitals from those offering psychiatric services as part of a multispecialist centre (grouped by whether they're owned by federal or state governments).
Hope you find the approach helpful! (This is an updated list, so if there's any missing, please let me know and I’ll add it!)
Lagos: Psychiatric Services
Military Hospital, Yaba
Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba
LUTH (Lagos University Teaching Hospital), Idi-araba
LASUTH (Lagos State University Teaching Hospital), Ikeja
General Hospital, Gbagada
General Hospital, Lagos Island
The Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta
Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Centre, Kwara
Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Uselu, Benin
Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar
Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Enugu
Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Kaduna
Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri
Psychiatric Hospital, Abia
State Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Awka, Anambra
Psychiatric Hospital, Eket, Akwa Ibom
Psychiatric Hospital, Sokoto
Kano State Psychiatric Hospital, Kano
National Hospital, Abuja
University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Edo
UCH (University College Hospital), Ibadan, Oyo
OAU Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-ife, Osun
University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Rivers
University of Calabar Teaching Hospital
University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara
Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Plateau
Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Kaduna
Usman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto
Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital, Kano
University of Nsukka Teaching Hospital, Enugu
University of Benin Teaching Hospital
Federal Medical Centre, Ido-Ekiti, Ekiti
Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo
Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, Delta
Federal Medical Centre, Bida, Niger
Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta
Adamawa: Yola Specialist Hospital
Bauchi: General Hospital, Bauchi
Benue: General Hospital, Makurdi
Delta: General Hospital, Warri
Edo: Central Hospital
Edo: Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital
Ondo: Akure General Hospital
Oyo: Ring Road Specialist Hospital, Ibadan
Rivers: Psychiatric Hospital Rumuigbo, Port Harcourt
Hope you found this helpful! Email me if you have any questions. Don’t forget your downloadable checklist!