Vision Athletics Foundation (VAF) focus group with school children ©


October 2023

Vision Athletics Foundation (VAF) – an ACT partner – was awarded a grant to undertake research on 'Mental Health Awareness of Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Youths and Community Leaders' in Rivers state.  

Mental health is a pressing concern affecting the youth in the Niger Delta region. According to Research Gate, a scarcity of data and a shortage of neuro-psychiatric facilities impacts well-informed decision-making on the issue. This leaves relevant authorities without the essential information to design effective interventions.

VAF embarked on the research to better understand the prevalence and perceptions of mental health issues in the state. The research was conducted in five local government areas (Obio-akpor, Okirika, Eleme, Port Harcourt, and Oyigbo), and was undertaken by ACT consortium members. A combination of surveys, focus group discussions and desk reviews were used.

The study revealed that depression is the most common type of mental health illness identified by citizens, and the key causes are poverty (95%), drug misuse (94%), and childhood maltreatment (93%). 

The research also highlighted that there are misconceptions about mental health difficulties, with some people believing that these challenges are exclusive to the Western world, while others ascribe them to spiritual causes.

A key recommendation is the need to dispel these misconceptions with an awareness campaign.

"Mental health conditions go beyond madness as popularly believed. There is need to create more awareness on the various forms of mental health conditions and clarify misconceptions surrounding mental health." 

Enyinnaya Okezie, Executive Director, VAF