Changing attitude to mental illness among community mental health volunteers in south-western Nigeria

O Abayomi, Ao Adelufosi, A Olajide
International Journal of Social Psychiatry 2013, 59 (6): 609-12

BACKGROUND: Community-based mental health services may be impaired by stigmatization and social distance towards persons with mental illness. Little is known about the impact of education on the attitude of volunteers for mental health programmes. This study aimed to examine the effect of an educational programme on the attitude of community volunteers towards mental illness.

METHODS: Thirty-one volunteers for a community mental health programme completed the Familiarity with Mental Illness Questionnaire and a modified version of the Bogardus Social Distance Scale (Bogardus, 1925) before and after an educational programme.

RESULTS: At the end of the educational session, perceived dangerousness was significantly reduced and attitude (social distance) towards persons with mental illness showed significant improvement.

CONCLUSION: Attitudes of community volunteers towards persons with mental illness improve with educational programmes. This may lead to improved treatment and care of individuals who are mentally ill.

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