There are a lot fewer mental health experts in Africa than is ideal—only 1 psychiatrist is needed for every 500,000 people. The stats are considerably worse in Nigeria, where there are just 300 psychiatrists to treat the more than 50 million individuals who have mental illnesses. The World Health Organization reports that six of the top ten countries worldwide with the highest suicide rates are located in Africa. Studies also reveal that there are about 20 suicide attempts for every successful suicide.
The prevailing attitude that Africans have regarding emotional and chemical-related conditions including melancholy, anxiety, and ADHD is exacerbating the mental health problem on the continent. For instance, it is common to see mentally ill people wandering the streets of Nigeria without access to care or mental health support. Many Nigerians have a propensity to mistake severe mental diseases for spiritual issues because of religious dogma and teachings. Additionally, there is a funding issue; on average, African governments allocate less than $0.5 per person on mental health.
Nigerians have had access to clinical psychologists since the on-demand teletherapy platform Nguvu Health launched in 2020. The health tech business with a mental health focus, established by Joshua Koya, Tolulope Ogunjuyigbe, and Juliet Odumosu, has teamed up with AXA Mansard to offer Africans access to inexpensive mental health care.
The two-year agreement combines AXA Mansard’s links to thousands of people looking for appropriate mental health coverage with Nguvu Health’s connections to teletherapy services. Nguvu’s original and patented mental health audit, which includes a review of policies and procedures, private staff interviews and surveys, and evaluations of workplace safety, health, and communication, is the centerpiece of this cooperation. The audit findings will be utilized to create a personalized wellness action plan with deadlines and quarterly wellness meetings that will act as “temperature checks” to gauge progress and resume efficiency optimization.
Through this collaboration, corporate clients and stakeholders of AXA Mansard will receive quarterly subsidized wellness sessions as well as a mental health audit. Nguvu will offer discounts for various forms of treatment, including 15% off couple and support group therapy, for customers of AXA Mansard.
Nguvu Health’s co-founder and chief marketing officer, Odumosu, said in an exclusive conversation with TechCabal that the firm presently has over 10,000 members and hopes to add 50,000 more by the end of the year.
She continued by saying that in order to expand its user base, Nguvu must collaborate with health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and benefit from their extensive networks. Odumosu asserts that HMOs also eliminate the availability of information about the kinds of care that are offered and the cost of therapy. AXA Mansard was chosen by Nguvu as a partner because it was open to working with a start-up and recognized the need of facilitating access to mental health practitioners.
Psychologists must pass a highly stringent verification process before being granted a license to provide mental health services on Nguvu’s platform. The psychologists must also present their psychology degree, a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and proof of current employment in their area of specialization.
Odumosu stated that Nguvu Health collaborated with the Oyo State Government to train counselors to deliver improved mental health-related services to those in need in order to address the shortage of mental health specialists.
Joshua Koya, CEO of Nguvu Health, commented on the cooperation and its potential effects, stating that a Deloitte global survey revealed that 64% of workers are dissatisfied, which lowers productivity. This survey’s findings are representative of many workplaces around the world, particularly in Africa, where the numbers are compounded by the challenging working conditions. The healthcare industry, especially the mental health arena, stands to gain significantly from this relationship by tackling challenges and disorders brought on by or made worse by work, such as stress and burnout.