Factors influencing adolescents stigmatising attitudes and perception of community reaction towards mental illness in Nigeria
Background: Stigma is one of the major distresses that are experienced by people with mental illness. Stigmatisation results in a reduction in quality of life of those affected.
Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the stigmatising attitudes of adolescents towards individuals with mental illness, their perception of community reaction and factors influencing it in Nigeria.
Method: In school Adolescents (N = 402) participated in the research. They completed self-administered questionnaires regarding socio-demographic details and questions based on a vignette of a young person with a mental disorder using the Standardized Stigmatisation Questionnaire (SSQ1). The study was cross-sectional in nature and employed a multistage sampling technique.
Result: The mean age was 14.44years (SD=1.84).There were 265 (65.9%) males and 137(34.1%) females. Approximately seventy percent of the adolescents would not be happy to sit next to a man with mental illness in a bus, 58.2% would not want him to teach their children, and an even higher percentage (72.9%) believe that most people in the community would do same. Seventy percent are aware that he did not develop his problems to avoid difficult situations of life and 78.2% also know that it’s not a punishment for bad deeds. Independent predictors of stigma related attitude include age p<0.002, gender p<0.010 and community perception p<0.001.
Conclusion: Stigmatisation of mental illness is highly prevalent among adolescents. Given that a significant percentage of the participants were well informed, formation of stigmatising attitude towards mental illness might be deeper than lack of knowledge. There may be a need to work on societal structure despite traditional education interventions and also encourage their contact with mentally ill persons.
Keywords: Stigmatisation Adolescents, community, Mental Illness, Perception, Societal structure