Journal of Community Medicine and Primary Health Care

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Knowledge and perception of mental disorders among relatives of mentally ill persons in a rural community in South-South Nigeria

O Agofure, O.R. Okandeji-Barry, I.S. Ume


Background: In Nigeria, mental disorders (MDs) are prevalent in the population and compounding the problem is the misconceptions and poor perceptions associated with these conditions. Consequently, the study was designed to assess the knowledge and perception of mental disorders among relatives of mentally ill persons in Amai community, Ukwuani Local Government Area, Delta State Nigeria.

Methods: This was a descriptive study utilising qualitative method of data collection. An in-depth interview was conducted among 20 relatives of mentally ill people selected purposively from four quarters in Amai community. An in-depth interview guide was used to collect the data and was analysed manually for themes and content.

Results: The age range of the participants was 25-75 years, comprising 11 females and nine males. The participants demonstrated some form of knowledge of the critical element of MDs, but showed misconceptions on the causes of MDs. Most of the participants preferred traditional (unorthodox) medicine for the treatment of MDs. Furthermore, despite their affirmative perception of MDs as a serious illness, the majority exhibited negative perception towards people with MDs.

Conclusion: Misconceptions and myths about the causes of mental disorder are very prevalent among rural dwellers. Poor perception towards mentally challenged persons among relatives of mentally challenged persons was also common. Therefore, these misconceptions and myths should be corrected through organized strategic awareness campaigns among rural dwellers aimed at eliminating these misconceptions and myths, thereby improving the quality of life of persons suffering from MDs.

Keywords: Mental disorders; Knowledge; Perception; Amai community; Southern Nigeria

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