Secondary school teachers' attitude to mental illness in Ogun State, Nigeria

N C Aghukwa
African Journal of Psychiatry 2009, 12 (1): 59-63

OBJECTIVE: Teachers as role models stand in a unique position in the formation of their pupils' set values about mental health issues. The aim of this study therefore was to determine the attitude of teachers to mental illness.

METHOD: The questionnaire for the study was a drafted modified self-administered one, distributed among a randomly selected sample of teachers in the area of study.

RESULTS: A significant number of teachers would not want to interact with former mentally ill persons in close social situations and many of them felt such people were unpredictable. Most of the respondents would not want former mentally ill persons holding sensitive jobs. More years of teaching was associated with not perceiving the former mentally ill person as being unpredictable. Teachers' highest educational qualification significantly related to their attitude towards former mentally ill persons. More teachers with Master's Degree than those with N.C.E qualification would not mind employing former mentally ill persons as gardeners, likewise not perceiving them as unpredictable or dangerous to other people in their surroundings. Results of the study showed that the majority of the teachers expressed negative attitudes in close social situations and job entrustments towards former mentally ill persons.

CONCLUSION: Mental health educational programmes geared towards a change in teachers' preconceptions about mental illness and with opportunities for positive interactions with mentally ill persons might be effective in changing their negative attitude towards former mentally ill persons.

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