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J Child Adolesc Ment Health. 2009 Dec;21(2):147-56. doi: 10.2989/JCAMH.2009.

Teachers' perspectives of mental health needs in Nigerian schools.

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a Department of Psychiatry , Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School , Boston , MA , 02115 , USA.



This study assessed teachers' perspectives on children's mental health needs and the development of school-based mental health programmes in South-West Nigeria.


Focus group discussions were held with teachers from randomly selected urban and rural primary schools in Ibadan, Nigeria. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.


Teachers identified significant mental health problems in school-age children and described a variety of bio-psychosocial contributing factors. These ranged from problems with primary support systems to poverty, spiritual factors, medical illnesses and genetic vulnerability. The school environment was recognised as an ideal place for dealing with child mental health issues despite deficiencies in teachers' knowledge, skills and resources. A school mental health programme that would provide training for teachers and awareness campaigns as well as human, material and financial resources was proposed.


The findings from this study provide a background for understanding the current state of interventions to address child mental health problems in a resource poor country in sub- Saharan Africa and specific areas where future program development is most likely to have an impact.

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