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A Qualitative Study Exploring University Health Care Students Perceptions on Methods to Reduce Mental Health Stigma in Nigeria

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The study explored methods to reduce mental health stigma in Nigeria. Participants were health care students from a University in Southern Nigeria who participated in focus groups following a mental health awareness seminar. An inductive theory-driven approach using thematic analysis was used to identify underlying meanings based on participant responses. Several methods to reduce mental health stigma emerged, with education deemed the most significant within and across themes and essential to supporting the effectiveness of other methods including access to resources, support systems, and direct social contact. Implications of findings for future practice in reducing mental health stigma using education to support awareness of mental health issues and advance counseling services in Nigeria are discussed.

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Correspondence to Olamojiba O. Bamgbose.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Dr. Aderonke Bamgbose Pederson currently teaches at the Depression Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.



Focus Group Interview Questions.

  1. 1

    What is mind health?

  2. 2

    What are your perceptions of your community’s understanding of stigma of mind health? Do you believe mind health is looked down upon in our society/community? In what ways?

  3. 3

    Tell us about personal stigma of mind health: What are your personal beliefs about mind health, beliefs about mind health treatment and beliefs about seeking mind health treatment?

  4. 4

    Stigma in different settings, at work, home or public community settings. Do people experience shame about mental illness at home or at school or at work or in public settings? What can reduce the negative attitudes or feelings of shame?

  5. 5

    Conceptualization of mental illness within the context and outside of the context of the biological human body: What is your understanding of the basis for depression, stress, anxiety or other experiences like these? Is there a biological explanation for these feelings or a cultural or religious explanation? What are they? Which are more valid to you?

  6. 6

    What strategies may be able to change and reduce stigma about difficult feelings like depression, stress, anxiety or similar experiences and feelings?

  7. 7

    Would you participate in these strategies? What are some barriers to participating

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Bamgbose, O.O., Pederson, A.B. & Okocha, A.A.G. A Qualitative Study Exploring University Health Care Students Perceptions on Methods to Reduce Mental Health Stigma in Nigeria. Int J Adv Counselling 45, 664–686 (2023).

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