Introduction: Stigma is a major barrier to help seeking among adolescents with mental disorders.
HIV-AIDS is also a highly stigmatised chronic disorder among youths. In contrast with HIV-AIDS,
there is scarcity of large scale interventions targeted at reducing mental illness related stigma in
Aim: This study determined the social distance of a sample of secondary school students in Nigeria
towards individuals with mental illness, as compared with those with HIV-AIDS.
Methods: Using a cross-sectional study design, adolescent secondary school students (n=170) in
Lagos, Nigeria completed the modified Borgadus Social distance Scale by self-report. Data was
analysed with SPSS 16.
Results: About seven out of ten (71.8%) and 20.6% of the participants would be afraid to have a
conversation with someone who has mental illness and HIV-AIDS respectively (p<0>
Participants were also more likely to be upset about being in the same classroom, sharing a
bedroom or maintaining friendship with individuals affected by mental illness than HIV-AIDS
Conclusion: The findings suggest that secondary school students in Nigeria desire a higher level of
social distance from individuals with mental illness than those with HIV-AIDS. Interventions targeted
at reducing the stigma associated with mental illness among school children require priority