Mental Health and Attitude towards Education of Secondary School Students in Nigeria

Article excerpt


Objective: Student mental health is of immense public health importance, factors that are associated with students' mental health and their success in school such as attitude towards education must be investigated. The aim of this study was to determine the magnitude of psychomorbidity, the association, if any, between psychomorbidity and negative attitude towards education, and identify correlates associated with psychomorbidity in a sample of Nigerian students. Methods: Seven hundred, selected using a stratified random sampling technique, completed the Socio-demographic Data Interview Schedule, the Modified Mitchell's Attitude Towards Education Scale, and the General Health Questionnaire (version 30). Results: About four out of ten students had psychopathology. Two out three students with psychopathology had negative attitude towards education (odds ratio of 3.7; 95% confidence interval = 2.982-4.592). Significant predictors of psychopathology among students were negative attitude towards education and parental occupation. Conclusion: Results from this study suggest that magnitude of psychomorbidity among students is high and that psychomorbidity is associated with negative attitude towards education, poor parental educational level and poor socioeconomic status.

Key words: Student mental health, attitude towards education, psychomorbidity.


Students are a special group in the society and their main area of functioning is studying. The ultimate goal of any type of study, be it western, apprenticeship or self-learning, is to be educated (that is, education). This study is concerned with students in the western type educational system which has been described as human capital or resources development - a description which is very apt since it is the products of the system as a whole that constitute the manpower crop of the society.

Attitude towards education refers to an enduring organisation of motivational, emotional, perceptual and cognitive processes with respect to aspects of education. Attitude towards education has also been found by researchers to have significant relationship to academic performance and poor psychosocial adjustments (Morakinyo, 1978; Foley and Epstein, 1992; Zeidner, 1998; Backels and Wheeler, 2001; Bassey, 2002).

Attitude towards education and students' mental health are important factors as regards success at studying (Greenberg, Domitrovich, and Bumbarger, 2003). The number of studies on attitude towards education, and mental health in West Africa is much fewer than in the western world and has been conducted more by researchers in the field of education and psychology than in psychiatry (Morakinyo, 2002). Yet, the relationships between the three variables should be of concern to the psychiatrist as well as the guidance counsellor and the educationist. It is now widely accepted that the mental health of students is of immense public health importance (U. S Department of Health and Human Services, 1999; U. S Public Health Service, 2000; Young, 2004).

High rates of psychiatric morbidity have been associated with academic failures and subsequent student wastage through school drop out, particularly in low- income countries (Morakinyo, 1990; Ademuwagun, Ajala, Oke, Moronkola and Jegede 2002). Hence, factors that are associated with the mental health of students and their success in academic performance must be investigated. Data obtained from such studies should therefore provide empirical base for intervention programmes both at preventive and curative levels and thereby help ensure adequate production of manpower and future national development.

This study aimed to examine the possible associations among these variables among a sample of secondary school students in Ile-Ife. Specifically, the study sought to determine the magnitude of psychomorbidity, determine the association, if any, between psychomorbidity and negative attitude towards education, and identify the correlates associated with psychomorbidity in the study population. …


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