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schizophrenia, gender flexibility, recovery, mental health, Nigeria.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition that impacts more heavily on men. In Nigeria, studies on men and health have mainly focused on sexual health, in contrast, men’s experience of schizophrenia and the role of gender in influencing beliefs about their recovery has rarely been studied. This study explored men’s perceptions of developing schizophrenia in northern Nigeria and what emerged as facilitating factors in their recovery.
This qualitative study utilized semi-structured interviews with 30 male outpatients with a previous diag-nosis of schizophrenia and 10 mental health professionals. All were recruited through Nigerian psychiatric hospital clinics. A thematic approach informed analysis of the data collected.
A commitment to flexibility in gender-relations emerged as a key finding. Within household members, the meeting of financial needs was talked about interchangeably. This flexible gender-relations was then associ-ated with household poverty reduction, which was previously seen as influencing the men’s recovery from the mental illness. In particular, providing for family needs became a shared responsibility, with departure from traditional gender expectations imposing fewer family hardships. This was also reported as having a bearing on the men’s willingness to access services, which aided recovery.
The influence of flexible gender-relations demonstrated in this study has practice implications for under-standing men’s management of recovery from schizophrenia. Community-focused gender transformative programs for the men and those involved in their care in Nigeria could help engage participants in discus-sions relevant to facilitate changes in gender expectations.
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