Nigeria: Upholding faith, recognizing trauma

“It is just too much to handle.” That is a common sentiment in Nigeria, where the poverty rate is among the highest in the world and many students have dysfunctional families. For this reason, mental health issues are prevalent, yet few recognize them. Many students believe that their feelings of anxiety or depression are caused by a force of evil. They often feel shame when their depression and anxiety do not vanish with prayer, which makes the problem worse. They are unequipped to realize they are dealing with trauma.

NIFES Nigeria is responding to this problem through organizing mental health classes for students, leaders, and graduates. Through the training, participants learn to recognize poor mental health and its contributing factors. While the classes do not devalue the importance of prayer, they show participants that God can bring healing through counseling and therapy. Hankuri Tawus Gaya, the area director who organized the initiative, says that it is vital that people understand the link between faith and mental health.

“If you are a part of mental health therapy, it doesn’t make you less of a believer. Rather it affirms that you are a Christian who believes in what God has provided. There is no separation between our faith and mental health. In fact, if there is anyone who should drive the message of mental health, it is Christians.”

Once they had the tools to recognize and deal with their trauma, some students experienced deep healing. Winnifred, a student who participated said that the course helped her to see mental health differently.

“The mental health course was indeed a transformational journey for me. The class gave me another perspective of viewing life’s problems the way God views them.”

This week, let’s pray for NIFES students, leaders, and graduates.

  • Pray that the participants of these classes would share what they learned with their friends. Pray that future trainings would be used as an effective outreach for nonbelievers.
  • Pray for NIFES students, graduates, and staff who are burdened with financial and relational issues. Pray that they would reach out for help when the burden is too great.
  • Pray for the NIFES National Director, Mr. Rex Onuh, as he provides leadership during the new reality of COVID-19.
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