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Open Access Research

Mental health care policy environment in Rivers State: experiences of mental health nurses providing mental health care services in neuro-psychiatric hospital, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Izibeloko Omi Jack-Ide1*, Leana R Uys2 and Lyn E Middleton2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Nursing, Department of Mental Health, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa, Nigeria

2 School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2013, 7:8  doi:10.1186/1752-4458-7-8

Published: 15 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Mental health services for Rivers State and surrounding States in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria are provided only at the neuropsychiatric Rumuigbo Hospital in Port Harcourt City, Rivers State, Nigeria. The study explored mental health nurses’ experiences of providing mental health services at the hospital in an attempt to understand policy implications, identify difficulties and challenges of delivering mental health care services.

Methods

A qualitative study using in-depth interview was conducted among 20 mental health nurses working at the neuropsychiatric Rumuigbo Hospital. This was reviewed within the Townsend mental health policy template of context and resources domains.

Results

A lack of political support and senior position in the Ministry of Health hinders service delivery, the prevalence of institutionalized stigma, a lack of training, and system failure to provide services at all levels of care is hampering service delivery. The inadequate allocation of resources for hospital renovations and equipment is preventing appropriate client care, as does the lack of funding for drugs, the cost of which makes them unaffordable, affecting clients staying on treatment.

Conclusion

Education and training of mental health care professionals should be given priority to remedy human resource shortage, provide incentives to motivate health professionals for psychiatric practice, and move toward decentralization of care into general health care services. Information should be provided at all levels to overcome the myths surrounding the causes of mental illnesses, to reduce stigma and discrimination of the affected and their families.

Keywords:
Mental health policy; Mental illness; Primary mental health care; Professional experiences