International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

Social support as a panacea for mental illness: A study of Nigerian immigrants in Braamfontein, Johannesburg

Adeagbo Oluwafemi
Africa Center for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa WITS 2050.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 15 July 2011
  •  Published: 30 September 2011



This paper synthesizes some literatures in the field of Public Health and Migration as well as fieldworks on Nigerian immigrants in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Some of the existing literatures support the view that social contacts tend to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  in refugees, and identified unemployment, lack of access to health care, lack of basic amenities and ‘poverty' as the major determinants of physical and mental health of refugees in the host communities. But, less/no attention is given to the mental illness of economic migrants in their host countries. This paper shows the study of Nigerian immigrants in South Africa with mental illness due to unemployment, distress, lack of accommodation, inaccessibility to good health care and in all, segregation from the Nigerian community. This paper argues that social support tend to reduce mental illness in a person (whether immigrant or native) if only if an individual reciprocates as a member of such group. This study applied ethnographic fieldwork, participant observation and semi-structured interviews to collect data among fifteen Nigerian immigrants (males) in Braamfontein in order to show the positive influence of social networks as well as the negative influence of what is this study refer to as "self social alienation" among members of this group in relation to mental illness.


Key words: Mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder, Nigerian immigrants, social contacts, self social alienation.