Perception of primary school teachers to school children’s mental health problems in Southwest Ethiopia

Habtamu Kerebih, Hailay Abrha Gesesew, Reiner Frank, Mubarek Abera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Teachers perception of child mental health problems and their attitude to school-based mental health services helps in designing early intervention strategies aimed at promoting the service. However, little is known in this regard among primary school teachers in Ethiopia. Therefore, this study assessed perceptions and attitude of primary school teachers to child mental health problem and school-based mental health programs in Jimma town, southwest Ethiopia in 2013.

A cross-sectional study design was implemented among 568 primary school teachers in Jimma town, from 1 to 30 October 2013. Perceptions and attitude of teachers to children with mental health problems and school mental health related information were assessed using a structured self- administered questionnaire.

About 40% of teachers recognized the list of psychopathology items presented to them as child mental health problems while 54.4% of them rated child mental health problem as severe. Externalizing behaviors were perceived as the most severe problems. Teaching experience and teaching in public schools were significantly associated with the perception of severe type of child mental health problems. About 95% of teachers acknowledged that school-based mental health programs are important but limited availability was reported.

Despite the high problem severity ratings, teachers’ perception of the psychopathology as a mental health problem in children was low. There was also a favorable attitude on the importance and the need of school-based child mental health programs. Thus, creating mental health awareness for teachers and establishing school mental health services to intervene in child mental health problem is crucial.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • primary school teachers
  • school children
  • mental health
  • services
  • programs


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