Resources available for school based mental health services in Enugu urban and head teachers’ knowledge of childhood mental health problems
Background: Childhood mental illnesses most times are detected earlier in schools than at homes as the schools provide enabling environment for early identification of children with problems.
Objectives: To evaluate the resources available for school-based mental health services in Enugu urban and to determine the head teachers’ knowledge of childhood mental health problems.
Methodology: A cross-sectional survey of 176 head teachers, who consented and were randomly selected. They were asked questions on how often they encountered children with mental health problems, facilities for the care of mentally ill children in their schools, the symptoms that could signify mental health problems in a school child and their first line of action in a situation where a child is found to have such problems.
Results: Seventy-four (77.1%) primary schools did not have any personnel for the care of mentally ill children compared with 24 (30%) of secondary schools. School guidance and counsellors were the most likely personnel to handle mental health needs of children in both the primary and secondary schools. Overall, only 24 (13.6%) of the head teachers would send the mentally ill child to a guidance and counsellor. About 40% of them suggested prayer house/herbal homes as a place where children with mental health challenges could get help.
Conclusions and Recommendations: This study exposed the paucity of facilities and personnel required to meet the mental health needs of children in schools and a need to increase the level of mental health awareness among the stakeholders that could facilitate the process of addressing these needs.
Keywords: Early intervention, guidance and counselling, private and public schools