School-Age Children's Perceptions of Mental Illness

Ada Spitzer, Cheryl Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to describe how school-age children perceive mental illness. The specific aims of this study were to describe the impact of age and sex on children's ability to identify and classify deviant behavior, and to identify how school-age children perceive mental illness by looking at how they define the concept, characterize the mentally ill, and understand causality and treatment. The random sample consisted of 90 school-age children. Thirty children were in grade 1, 30 in grade 4, and 30 in grade 7. A multimethods approach combining qualitative and quantitative techniques was used to analyze data Major studyfindings indicated that age was not a significant factor in children's ability to classify deviant behavior; however; there was a sex main effect: Boys were able to better identify deviant behaviors than girls. A developmental trend was noted in children 's ability to be aware of what mental illness is, to acknowledge characteristics of people who are mentally ill, to differentiate between mental illness and mental retardation, to identify various etiologies of mental illness, and to choose appropriate treatment modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-415
Number of pages18
JournalWestern Journal of Nursing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


Dive into the research topics of 'School-Age Children's Perceptions of Mental Illness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this