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JOURNAL ARTICLE

The attitudes of clergy in Benin City, Nigeria towards persons with mental illness

N G Igbinomwanhia, B O James, J O Omoaregba
African Journal of Psychiatry 2013, 16 (3): 196-200
23739822

OBJECTIVE: The clergy in sub-Saharan Africa play a major role in the care and pathways to orthodox mental health services of the mentally ill. Their attitudes concerning mental illnesses would influence community mental health intervention efforts. This study aimed to determine the attitudes of clergy towards persons with mental illness.

METHOD: A cross-sectional survey of clergy (n = 107) of the Christian and Muslim faiths was conducted, using a socio-demographic questionnaire and the 40- item Community Attitudes towards Mental Illness (CAMI) scale.

RESULTS: Stigmatizing attitudes were evident among members of the clergy surveyed. Most (71.1%) believed the mentally ill were different from other persons, while 68.2% were of the opinion that the mentally ill should be controlled like children. Over 80% of respondents were not comfortable with the idea of the mentally ill living in their vicinity and wanted mental health hospitals situated out of residential areas. Almost half of respondents (45.8%) were uncomfortable with women who were once mentally ill baby-sitting and 63.2% agreed that our mental hospitals seem more like prisons than where the mentally ill can be cared for.

CONCLUSION: Negative attitudes towards the mentally ill were widespread among the clergy sampled. Mental health professionals need to take proactive steps to improve the mental health knowledge of the clergy which may facilitate their roles in the pathway to mental health care.

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