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Background to the Study
 Mental health is a basic component of health and it contributes to living a happy and fulfilled life. Mental health is defined by the WHO. (2011) as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. On the other hand, mental illness refers to conditions that affect cognition, emotion, and thus, the everyday life of the person who suffers it (American Psychological Association, 2015). Mental illness is an important public health issue worldwide (Vijayalakshmi, Reddy, Math & Thimmaiah, 2013). Increasing health and socio-economic burden of mental illnesses and disorders have become a major concern in both developed and developing countries. Globally, it is estimated that more than 450 million people suffer from mental or behavioural disorders and one in four families has at least one member with a mental disorder (Fiasorgbor & Aniah, 2015). According to World Health Organisation (2012), mentally ill people often lack access to education, healthcare and opportunities to earn a decent living, which limit their chances of economic development and deprive them of social protection and recognition within the community. This burden of mental disorders is maximal in young adults, the most productive section of the population, and with the onset notably at adolescence; it issues a serious concern to the economy of any nation (Fiasorgbor and Aniah, 2015). In Nigeria, as in other parts of the world, the prevalence of mental illness is quite high. It was reported by WHO (2007) that 20 percent of Nigerians are suffering mental illness. With a population of 160 million, this translates to the fact that more than 30 million Nigerians are suffering from one form of mental disorder or another (National Census, 2006). Most surveys on perceptions of mental illness have been largely conducted in western countries, with few studies in developing country contexts. In the course of this present study, it became evident that the major reason for the dearth of resources on public perceptions of mental health and mental illness in Nigeria is the absence of political will to develop a mental health service based on a comprehensive legal and policy framework that encourages research interest on the subject (Iheanacho, 2013). The law covering Mental Health Act in Nigeria is so grossly inadequate that Nigeria is still operating on the Mental Health Policy of 1996 (Godiya, Bala, Bala, Ogbonna, Osumanyi & Ahmed et al., 2013). This is in contrast to what is obtainable in Western countries and even neighboring African countries such as Ghana where a new mental health Act was recently passed (Fiasordor et. al., 2015). The belief system of people has been known to influence their attitudes and perception of a lot of subjects; mental illness inclusive. A recent Nigerian survey found that urban dwelling, higher educational status, and familiarity with mental illness correlated with belief in biological and psychosocial causation, while rural dwelling correlated with belief in supernatural causes. This identifies culture as likely to influence the experience, expression, and determinants of peoples’ perceptions (Adewuya & Makanjuola, 2008). These beliefs undoubtedly affect how the mentally ill is treated in the society. This was confirmed in a study conducted in South-western Nigeria where it was found that people were unwilling to have social interactions with those with mental illness. Most of the respondents reported that they would be afraid to have a conversation, would be upset or disturbed about working on the same job, would not share a room, and would feel ashamed if people knew that someone in their family had been diagnosed with a mental illness. Only very few reported that they could maintain a friendship with a person with a mental illness (Gureje, Lasebikan, Ephraim-Oluwanuga, Olley, & Kola, 2005). Conversely, studies from western societies have shown that biological factors (diseases of the brain and genetic factors) and eventual factors (trauma and stress) are more likely to be considered causal while in Africa, supernatural causes are widely considered (Sadik, Bradley, Al-Hasoon and Jenkins, 2010). A study in India of community beliefs about causes and risks for mental disorders, found that the most commonly acknowledged causes were a range of socio-economic factors, while neither supernatural causes nor biological explanation were widely endorsed. In this case the main predictors of the variable of social distance from people with mental illness was perceiving the person as dangerous, while the main predictors of reduced social distance was being a volunteer health worker, and seeing the problem as a personal weakness. For depression, believing the cause to be family tension reduced social distance. For psychosis, labelling the illness as a mind/ brain problem, a genetic problem or a lack of control over life increased social distance. (Kermode , Bowen , Arole , Joag & Jorm, 2009)

Project detailsContents
Number of Pages124 pages
Chapter one Introduction
Chapter two Literature review
Chapter three  methodology
Chapter  four  Data analysis
Chapter  five Summary,discussion & recommendations
Chapter summary1 to 5 chapters
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