Mental health services are provided at Rumuigbo Hospital, a single facility that renders psychiatric services in Rivers State and surrounding states in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Psychiatric services are not provided at primary health-care clinic or district hospitals, and access to this service can be problematic for many caregivers due to the time and costs involved. Therefore, this study explored the family caregiving experiences of persons with serious mental health problems in terms of the mental health-care policy and health systems environment. A qualitative study using a purposive sampling technique was conducted among 20 caregivers attending a neuropsychiatric clinic in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. The results show that 78% of caregivers lived outside Port Harcourt and 65% had no regular monthly income. Stigma, poor knowledge in managing symptoms of ill relatives, financial implications, lack of support network, and absence of community outreach clinics were found to affect family caregiving experiences. Policies need to be developed and implemented that provide mental health care through primary health-care services to ameliorate families' financial burden, enable early diagnosis and treatment, reduce the need to travel, and improve the quality of life of family caregivers. © 2012 The Authors International Journal of Mental Health Nursing © 2012 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc.
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