One of the foremost hindrances preventing appropriate mental health service delivery in developing countries is the limited knowledge of the general population about mental disorders which often leads to social stigma, negative perception and poor attitudes towards the mentally-ill. This study investigated nurses' mental health-related knowledge, their attitudes towards mental illness and the mentally-ill, their mental health-related and intended behaviour and opinion and beliefs about possible causes of mental illness.
Methods: This study was a cross-sectional, hospital and questionnaire-based survey that took place at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. One hundred and twenty-three nurses working in LASUTH participated in the study. The participants were asked to complete the Mental Health Knowledge Schedule (MAKS), Reported and Intended Behaviour Scale (RIBS) and Community Attitudes towards the Mentally Ill (CAMI).
Results: The participants had negative opinions about mental health and the mentally-ill. They were observed to be authoritarian and restrictive in perception of the mentally-ill and also believed that majority of the mentally-ill needed admission. Majority of the participants were quite knowledgeable about the aetiological factors of mental illness. Less emphasis was placed on evil spirits, supernatural punishment and witches as the aetiologies of mental disorders.
Conclusion: Despite the respondents being nurses, their knowledge, attitude and perception about the mentally-ill were relatively negative. Nigerian mental health policy deciders need to urgently develop awareness and advocacy programmes against discrimination and social stigma associated with mental illness especially among hospital nurses.