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Diagnosis, Negative Stereotyping Attitudes towards Mentally Ill Africa’s Dilemma

  • Negative Stereotyping Attitudes towards Mental Illness has been identified inimical to patients and it  culturally related in Africa
  • people with mental illness are stigmatized by police officers and may be treated as criminals

Isaiah Onwunaumba

People with mental disorders are found to be stigmatised while their support depends on the mind set and general attitude in their respective countries and that individuals with disorder can be treated as criminals,  study in Nigeria and Kenya revealed.

Report on Emotional Empathy, Social Distance and Attitude of Police Officers towards People with Mental Illness showed that people with mental illness are generally stigmatized.

“This study therefore specifically investigated the relationship between emotional empathy, social distance and attitude towards mental illness by police officers who interface with people with mental illness in the course of duty. A total of 300 police officers comprising of 148 (49.3%) males and 152 (50.7%) females were selected from the Police Training College Ikeja, Lagos State. “

Findings revealed that “people with mental illness are stigmatized by police officers and may be treated as criminals and not as either suspects or victims before they get judged. Police officers with prejudicial attitude towards mental illness are likely to stigmatize people with mental illness and hence constitute security lapses in the nation’s criminal justice system. There is a lack of emphatic concern by the police officers in dealing with people with mental illness; the mentally ill may withdraw to their shell.”

It is therefore noted that “there is a need for inclusion of the role of psychologist to train police officers on the knowledge of mental illness, adherence to zero tolerance for stigmatisation of people with mental illness and to give intervention to police officers on empathic altruism and concern.”

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 “Psychometric evaluation of the Dislike Attributed to Mental Illness indicates that it is a reliable scale for measuring negative stereotyping attitudes towards mental illness. The main statistical significance was due to nurse ethnicity,” according to Holistic Management of Persons with Mental Disorders: Cases of Caregivers Center Psycho Neuro Pathology in Kinshasa, Africa.

A serious problem arises in the holistic care of these patients by the fact that there is a lack of interest by their families, NGOs and the state, what grows them to be wandering day and night to across the major towns and cities without admission to hospitals.

“The small group that can be admitted for care in hospitals, is also confronted with the institutional realities that do not allow that holistic care, especially since it takes days and the improvement seems to be too slow and mutigious,” it added.

“The stigmatization is further demonstrated in that 96.3% of caregivers say working conditions, transportation to get to the service is not insured. 92.6% of the staff  say that all care is given based on a rolling crisis services by care who comes in two service or three days a week and the rest of the day, he rests at home…….. and administration of patient care based on standards and the promotion of mental health is applied by caregivers that in 11.8% of cases. “

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