Strengthening Community Systems, to Foster Mental Wellbeing

Idimma, which means wellness and wholesomeness in the Igbo language of Nigeria, is a not-for-profit organization that is working towards bringing mental wellness to every community in Nigeria and Africa.

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Lay Counselling Training

Lay counselling is a critical initiative addressing mental health challenges in Africa, notably Nigeria, where suicide rates are alarming. The World Health Organization reports that every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide, with 77% of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. Nigeria, a country with over 210 million people has only about 300 Psychiatrists according to the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria.

According to WHO, over 30% of the population are living with a mental health condition as of 2016 and only less than 10% have access to treatment. This is due to a shortage of mental health professionals, financial burden, and fear of stigma and discrimination.

To counter this, we train lay counselors across Africa to provide life-saving mental health interventions, especially in grassroots communities. Our comprehensive curriculum covers basic counseling skills, ethics, confidentiality, non-diagnostic screening for common mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, support group setup, referral pathways, and counselor self-care. This initiative not only addresses the shortage of mental health professionals but also empowers communities to tackle mental health challenges locally. With several successful training sessions completed, we continue to provide mentorship to our counselors, ensuring they deliver effective and safe psychosocial support within their communities. Together, we’re changing the narrative and saving lives, by leveraging positive community values, the Ubuntu way.

Our Theory of Change

Humans are born with the resilience to self-heal and adapt to difficult situations that life throws at them, if provided with the right circumstances. However, there are life circumstances that may hinder this ability, thereby delaying progress and in severe cases leading to mental health difficulties.

Our theory of Change is based on the premise that when we promote mental wellbeing by leveraging positive community values, we can empower individuals to self-heal and remove the barriers that hinders their growth and ability to live a healthy, thriving life. This is why we train Lay counselors within communities, equipping them with the skills to identify early warning signs of mental health issues, provide basic counseling and referral of severe cases for specialised care.  Through this method, we can also easily map out other social factors that impact the quality of life of persons with mental health conditions and include them in interventions, like our social care approach which provides vocational skills training to persons with mental health conditions and their caregivers, to increase their sources of income and reduce their rate of relapse due to economic factors.

We are empowering various stakeholders within the society to champion mental health causes and bring about lasting change .

Community and Primary healthcare workers

Humanitarian aid workers

School teachers

Refugee camp teachers and health workers

Community volunteers

Religious and traditional leaders

Law enforcement agents- police, legal officers

Number of persons trained
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Journalists trained on Trauma-informed Journalism
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Beneficiaries supported by Lay Counsellors
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Listeners reached via Mental Health Radio drama
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Why we chose lay counselling as our tool for change

Equal access to mental healthcare for all

Imagine a community where every tenth person has learned counselling skills. To create a society with better listeners and better communicators, a society that is broadly more empathetic and caring for each other’s needs, we will be creating a mentally healthier society that is broadly able to heal itself. 

Every individual has mental health needs. However, not every individual will require specialized mental healthcare in their lifetime. Some people can be supported through basic psychosocial support, which a lay counsellor can provide. A person who requires specialized care can be referred to see a specialist.

Aisha Bubah

Founder/ Projects Lead, Idimma

Our Values

At Idimma, these are the values that guide the steps we take towards bridging the gap in access to mental health care.


When we empower communities and strengthen existing systems to take initiative in improving their mental wellbeing, it ensures sustainability.


We are humans. We have mental health and we understand what it means when it suffers and when it thrives.


When people come together to support their mental wellbeing, it provides a supportive landing ground for persons who deal with severe mental illness.


To take charge and influence a change in the negative narrative around mental health.


A good mental health improves the chances to thrive and grow in all other areas of life like school/work, relationship, etc.


Giving people the power to self-heal and influence their mental wellbeing.

Our Partners