An Exploratory Study of the Lived Experiences of Women with Mental Illness in Southwest of Nigeria

  • Abiodun Abegunde

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: Women with mental illness experience the burden of the symptoms of their illness and other challenges related to the illness. In addition, many of these women are mothers and the illness affects their motherly role and abilities. There is limited understanding of women’s experiences of mental illness in the southwest of Nigeria. This study investigated how these women with mental illness live their everyday lives. The focus of the study also extended to the exploration of lived experiences of mothers living with mental illness in the same part of Nigeria. I believe the findings may provide an additional understanding of their experiences and strategic ways of providing care for this group of women.

Aim: The current study explored the lived experiences of women and mothers with mental illness in southwest of Nigeria. Also, the study examined the women’s experiences of accessing mental health services.

Method: The hermeneutics methodological approach outlined by Gadamer (1900/2002), was found useful in this study. The approach supports the interpretation of participants’ subjective experiences for a greater understanding. Participants were recruited through purposive sampling, and data collection was conducted in two phases. Phase one examined the lived experiences of women and the second phase looked at the everyday activities of 26 mothers. All the participants were receiving treatments for mental illness in two mental hospitals in the southwest of Nigeria. A semi-structured interview method was used to collect data from the 46 participants. The thematic analysis proposed by Braun and Clarke (2013) was used to analyse the datasets because of its compatibility with the study design.

Result: Phase one findings identified three main themes as experiences of being diagnosed with mental illness, the impacts of mental illness on participants, and their views about mental healthcare provision. Phase two findings revealed the effects of mental illness on mothers, the themes that emerged from the second data collection included the reliance on the support of others, effects of mental illness on children, views about services delivery and the unmet needs of mothers with mental illness. Each of the themes has subthemes which are discussed comprehensively in this thesis.

Conclusion: To improve mental health services, there is a need to revise the mental health policies in Nigeria. The findings suggest the need to provide parenting support for mothers with mental illness. Care of people with mental illness should include economic and psychosocial interventions.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBerenice Golding (Co-Supervisor) & Clementinah Rooke (Co-Supervisor)

Cite this