Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 110-116

Knowledge of mental health law and attitude toward mental illness among attorneys in Nigeria

1 Clinical Services, Forensic Unit, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Uselu, Benin City, Nigeria
2 Mental Health In-reach Team, HMP Elmey and Burgess Ward, Bracton Centre, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Dartford Kent, England, United Kingdom
3 Clinical Services, Forensic Unit, Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Nigeria
4 Older People's Health and Ageing, Northwick Park Hospital, Central and Northwest London NHS Foundation Trust, London, England, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Oluyemi O Akanni
Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Benin City, Edo State
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/SHB.SHB_24_20

Rights and Permissions

Introduction: There are legal provisions for the protection of those who are mentally ill, and law officers may have a role in this regard. Few, if any studies have attempted to investigate the knowledge about and attitude towards mental illness among the members of the legal profession. Methods: This was a cross-sectional descriptive survey conducted among attorneys in Benin-City, Edo State, South-South, Nigeria, using a 21-item knowledge/attitude questionnaire. Results: Seventy-five attorneys who filled the questionnaire were in the age range of 23 and 65 years, with more males (69.3%), more married (60.8%), and more private defense attorneys (79.2%) participating. A greater proportion (64.8%) had not adjudicated for persons with mental illness, and a few (22.2%) would not agree to solicit for them. Only a few were accurate about when the Nigerian mental health law was enacted (9.3%), what it says about the treatment of the mentally ill persons (3.0%), and the handling of the property of the same (3.1%). Although only a minority (7.1%) were familiar with the provisions of the insanity defense under section 28 of the criminal code, most (85.9%) identified correctly the disposal of a mentally ill person found unfit to plead according to the criminal procedure act. Conclusion: Lawyers in the study appeared to have very little experiential knowledge about mental illness, demonstrated a poor level of knowledge regarding mental health laws as well as criminal provisions regarding mentally abnormal offenders. There is a need to improve training content in Legal education in Nigeria with regard to legislation affecting both civil and criminal aspects of mental disorder.

Print this article     Email this article
 Next article
 Previous article
 Table of Contents

 Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
 Citation Manager
 Access Statistics
 Reader Comments
 Email Alert *
 Add to My List *
 * Requires registration (Free)

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded514    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal