Artist Health

7 Ways Nollywood Might Be Misleading You on Mental Health Illness


As educated as I was ten years ago, meaning I already had my doctorate degree in law, I completely freaked out when a romantic interest revealed to me he had/had suffered from a mental illness.

I’ll be very honest people. I was very afraid. In fact, the only thing that kept running through my mind were images I had seen in hundreds of television programs and movies, both Western and Nollywood, of violent attacks by people with mental illness. I was concerned for my safety, very concerned.

Needless to say, I was very wrong and I had to educate myself about mental illness and work very hard to re-wire my thinking. Even with the self education on mental health, the truth is that it is still a conscious and deliberate effort for me not to immediately default to the fear and stereotypes associated with someone suffering from a mental illness.

We’ve got quite a handful of film practitioners that make up the AML community. Folks, the article below is for you as much as it is for all of us. Do begin to think carefully about the impact your creativity has on your immediate society and the world at large; and do conduct the necessary research to tell an accurate story of mental illness in your movies.

There is indeed a very important paradigm shift that needs to take place, especially in the creative space, when it comes to educating the public at large about mental health. Statistically, our creative community has higher incidences of mental illness than other industry sectors, so we have a vested interest to get it right.

-Ms. Uduak
Photocredit: Sonia Ibrahim via
Photo description: Actress Sonia Ibrahim plays a woman with mental health issue in the movie ‘Number One Fan.

Throwback Music Video- Faze’s Kolomental

7 Ways Nollywood Might Be Misleading You on Mental Health Illness.

Nollywood has stepped up plenty in the last decade or so, and become we can be proud of. From oldies (sort of) like Ije and Figurine, to recent hits like Half of a Yellow Sun and October 1, we’ve seen better and better movies and TV shows.

But there’s one area Nollywood — and Nigerian TV in general — still falls short. (No prizes for guessing which!)

Mental health.

Honestly, if Nollywood and Naija TV were our teachers, and mental health our curriculum, we’d all barely make it past Primary One! And that’s sad, because media has such a huge influence on how we see and think about things. (I’ve written before about how even Tinsel isn’t exempt.) It’s a massive opportunity just down the toilet.

But today’s not the day to rant. Today, I want to talk about what we might wrongly believe about mental health and illness if we actually believed Nollywood (and Nigerian TV as a whole — although I bet it’s probably not too different with other African countries).

Anyway, in no particular order, here are the top 7 myths from Nigeria’s film and TV scene…

People with mental illness are violent and unreasonable
Okay, I know I said these things are in no particular order, but this might well be number one misconception our media reinforces. I’ve written a series of articles on this (here, here and here), but suffice to say here that it’s simply NOT true. People with mental illness are no more violent than anyone else. has the full story.

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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