Mental health and psychosocial support needs among people displaced by Boko Haram in Nigeria.


Since 2013, the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria has left almost 2 million people displaced and 10 million in need of life-saving services. While the humanitarian response has focused on provision of food, shelter, and physical health needs, mental health needs remain largely overlooked. This mixed-methods project explored the mental health and psychosocial (MHPS) burden, existing resources and coping mechanisms, and remaining needs among internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities in Borno State, Nigeria. Survey findings reveal a high burden of mental health needs: 60% of participants strongly endorsed at least one mental health symptom, and 75% endorsed functional impairment associated with mental health symptoms. Unexpectedly, we found that adult men had the highest rates of symptom burden, suggesting that typical approaches focusing on women and children would miss this vulnerable population. Qualitative findings (free lists, interviews, focus group discussions) reflect MHPS needs that could be addressed through solutions-focused approaches, although tailored interventions would be needed to support stigmatised and vulnerable groups such as drug users and rape victims. Finally, participants emphasised the breakdown of community and political leadership structures, as well as of economic and livelihood activities, suggesting that MHPS interventions should focus on restoring these key resources.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Kaiser, Bonnie N, Cynthia Ticao, Jeremy Boglosa, John Minto, Charles Chikwiramadara, Melissa Tucker and Brandon A Kohrt (2019). Mental health and psychosocial support needs among people displaced by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Global public health. pp. 1–14. 10.1080/17441692.2019.1665082 Retrieved from

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Brandon A. Kohrt

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Brandon Kohrt is a medical anthropologist and psychiatrist who completed his MD-PhD at Emory University in 2009. He is currently Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Global Health, and Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. Dr. Kohrt has worked in Nepal since 1996 researching and aiding victims of war including child soldiers. Since 2006 has worked with Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal. Dr. Kohrt has been a consultant to The Carter Center Mental Health Program Liberia Initiative since 2010. Dr. Kohrt is the component lead for the Grand Challenges Canada funded Mental Health Beyond Facilities (mhBeF) program in Nepal, Liberia, and Uganda. Dr. Kohrt has published scientific articles and book chapters about mental health among conflict- and disaster-affected populations in Nepal, Liberia, and Haiti. Dr. Kohrt has collaborated on numerous documentary films about human rights and global health including Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army.  

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