INTRODUCTION: Between 76% and 85% of people with severe mental disorders receive no treatment in low-income and middle-income countries; the corresponding range for high-income countries is high, ranging between 35% and 50%. Approximately 20%–30% of primary care attendees apply primarily due to emotional problems. The majority of these cases often remain unrecognized, misdiagnosed, and inappropriately managed. Currently, mental health is one of the health extension programs. So we aim to examine knowledge, attitude, practice, and associated factors of health extension professionals with regard to mental illness in West Amhara, Ethiopia.
METHODS: This cross sectional study was conducted from March to December 2017 in West Amhara, Ethiopia, on health extension professionals. Data were analyzed using logistic regression, and the level of significance of association was determined as a p-value <0.05.
RESULTS: A total of 650 Health Extension Workers were selected, and the response rate was 623 (96%). A total of 71.9% of health extension professionals had good knowledge with regard to mental illness, and 65.5% had a positive attitude toward mental illness, while 60% have never practiced mental health services. 64.8% of health extension professionals did not refer any case of mental illness in the past 3 months. A basic psychiatric training is significantly associated with good knowledge, positive attitude, and practice.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: This study showed that the knowledge was satisfactory, that a significant number of health extension professionals had a favorable attitude, and that also only a low number of health extension professionals practiced mental health in their working area. Thus, a basic mental health training should be arranged for health extension professionals.