Why people do not seek help for mental health challenges in Lagos - Nigeria : 360 Psyche

4 Top Reasons People Don’t Seek Help

There are many reasons people don’t seek help for a mental health challenge and we will address our top 4 as it relates to anxiety

First, a story…

The first time it happened to Temilade was five years ago. It was strange – the tingling, the pumping, the loss of breath, the sweating and that uncontrollably feeling that something was about to go horribly, horribly wrong.

It was his third interview after he was discharged from the compulsory NYSC in Nigeria. As he walked up the stairs, he noticed his breath getting shorter. He could hear his heart beats. He looked at his hand and they were shaking. Something was about to go horribly, horribly wrong… 

“I am going to die”, he exclaimed inwardly. 

“My village people have finally caught up with me”, he continued.

He looked up the stairs and summoned enough courage to take another; just then his legs told him to turn and run, so he obeyed.

From that day henceforth, Temilade noticed these feelings more frequently. It affected three more interviews, his last relationship and a lot of outings with a couple of friends.

Last year, there was this burning sensation in his chest region that was new. He was almost certain he had a heart condition. He knew he needed help. 

“I recommend you see our psychologist for further evaluation”, said Dr Andrew, the cardiologist after series of tests with no evidence of a heart condition.

Psychologist? That was big news to Temilade. Well, it was not a psychiatrist, so it was a little better, but still.

“Are you sure you have done all the necessary tests Doc”, he continued, placing much emphasis on ‘all’. 

“Yes, I have Temilade. There is no physical evidence for your complaints, so I suggest you see a psychologist for further evaluation. Can I refer you to Mr. Bakare? He has a track record of helping such cases”

“Ok Doc”.

That was the last day he was going to Kutama Specialist Hospital. Dr Andrew was beginning to lose his touch as a good doctor.

“I need to see a more experienced Cardiologist”, Temilade decided as he walked out.

That was the beginning of a journey yet to end for Temilade. He had visited almost all cardiologists in Lagos State, Nigeria, and a couple of spiritual houses. The funds his father left him has been depleted. Finally, after much encouragement from the most recent doctor, he decides to visit a recommended psychiatrist, Dr Amaka.

“Thank you for coming over Temilade. Following our clinical assessment, it reveals that you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder”

Strange flex, but ok.

“I’ll prescribe some medications, but you’ll need to visit a therapist for psychotherapy”, Dr. Amaka finished.

“Maybe it was not so bad after all”, Temilade thought. He’ll visit a therapist and get this over with.

The first therapy session was quite pleasant. The therapist understood majority of his complaints and feelings. It felt good talking.

“Based on our assessment and your clinical history, I’ll recommend a minimum of 6 psychotherapy sessions”

Six sessions? Minimum?

Strange flex, but not ok.

That was the last day Temilade visited the therapist. This time around, he decided he was going to try herbal and more visits to his pastor. He could also talk to one or two friends – it would be faster and less expensive.

This was the merry go round of Temilade.

The care for persons with mental health challenges is a growing concern for public health. It’s practically no big surprise that many people do not seek help for mental health challenges. Based on an estimation done for WHO regions on treatment gap by Kohn, et. al (2004), the median treatment gap for schizophrenia was 32.2%, depression 56.3%, dysthemia 56.0%, bipolar disorder 50.2%, panic disorder 55.9%, generalized anxiety 57.5%, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 57.3%, alcohol abuse and dependence 78.1%. While the reasons people do not seek help for mental health challenges are numerous, there are a few common reasons.

Lack of Insight

With Temilade, and same with most of us, we believe mental health challenges are for the neighbors, and don’t apply to you. Imagine being asked to take malaria medications when you truly believe you are  not sick? It’s okay to be in denial when there are clear signs of a mental health challenge, no one wants to be tagged the one that couldn’t fix self. But before you scream “I don’t need help” again, ask yourself these two questions – does my current challenges cause personal pain and does it affect daily functioning in any area of my life including relationships, work, etc. A genuine answer should give you a clue. You can ask a therapist any related question to get you started.

Financial Constrains

Still with Temilade, finance hinders a lot of us from getting the help we deserve. We understand that mental health consultation, medications and therapy aren’t cheap. Also, we believe it boils down to the value we place on our mental health. If you were told that you need to undergo Chemotherapy for cancer, we would most likely prioritize. Yes, we understand that there are high chances that a person can’t genuinely afford mental health services. That’s the reason we offer a two weeks discounted online therapy service for people that genuinely need financial aid. You can send us a message to get started. Also, we offer discounts when you schedule for a couple number of  sessions upfront.  We also have a portfolio of free resources to use.

Limited Awareness

Often times I have seen people refuse to see a mental health professional because they believe mental health conditions are not real challenges. At those times, sometimes of course, I have helped create more awareness on what comprises mental health challenges and how serious they can limit us from living our best life. There is still much work to be done. Learn more about various other aspects of your mental well-being.


One in four persons has been estimated by the World Health Organization to be struggling with a mental health challenge. You are not alone, its more common than you think. Most at times, we believe that a mental health challenge doesn’t give one the opportunity to live normal, fulfilled lives, but that is not the case. There are  also concerns of how a mental challenge label could negatively affect a person’s career, relationship, education or other life goals. You just need to learn how to manage stigma effectively, especially self stigma. We also have this in consideration, so you may decide to schedule for an online therapy or a concierge therapy (in-home, office or any convenient location), and even anonymous help.

The path to mental health and wellness is a conscious, deliberate process. You’ll need to play your part. 

There are more than four reasons people do not seek help for a mental health challenge. We understand this and willing to help. Learn more about us and what we do. You can also visit our frequently asked questions for quick answers or send us a message. We’ll love to hear from you.

Remember, until I come your way next time, better day tomorrow


Kohn, R., Saxena, S., Levav, I., & Saraceno, B. (2004). The treatment gap in mental health care. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 82, 858 – 8

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