EMOTIONAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AND COPING STRATEGIES OF ACADEMIC STAFF IN UNIVERSITIES IN ENUGU STATE

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Abstract

Determining the level of emotional health problems and extent of use of coping strategies among academic staff in universities in Enugu State was the purpose of this study. To achieve this purpose, the descriptive research designwas adopted. The population for the study consisted of 2256 full-time academic staff from five universities (one federal, one state and three private universities) in Enugu State. A sample of 669 academic staff participated in the study, and was selected by proportionate stratified random sampling and simple random sampling techniques. The instrument used for data collection was the emotional health problems and coping strategies (EMHEPACOS) questionnaire. It has four sections. Section A elicited information on personal data of the subjects, while section B consisted of five self tests adapted from literature that elicited information on levels of five specific dimensions of EHPs. To establish levels of EHPs, results of the tests were used and interpreted using four scales of No/Minimal, Low, Moderate and Severe. Section C sought information on extent of prevalence of sources of EHPs, whereas Section D dwelt on extent of use of coping strategies for EHPs. A fivepoint scale response options of Very Low, Low, Moderate, High and Very High extent were used to weight the respondents’ responses in sections C and D and also to interpret the results. The face validation of the instrument was established through the judgment of five experts drawn from various departments of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The Spearman Brown Rank Order was used to establish dichotomously scored items of the instrument, while internal consistency of the polychotomously scored items was computed using Cronbatch Alpha technique. Both methods yielded reliability co-efficient values of .87 and .89. Data collected were analyzed using the SPSS version 17 for MS WINDOWS. Descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages, mean, standard deviations and mean totals were used for analysis of descriptive data, while One-way analysis of variance and Dunnett’s post hoc tests were used to test the hypotheses at .05 level of significance. The findings of the study showed that there were moderate levels of four out of five dimensions of the emotional health problems studied among majority of the academic staff. The findings also indicated that specifically majority of the items on sources and coping strategies for emotional health problems occurred to high or moderate extent respectively among academic staff, albeit, very few occur to low or very low extent. The findings among other things equally revealed that while level of emotional health problems among academic staff was influenced by gender; extent of use of coping strategies is independent of the academic staff gender. Finally, based on the above findings this study recommended among other things that in view of the fact that health education is the mother discipline of public health education and a panacea to emotional health problem at least a recommended regular health education on emotional health sustainability should be made compulsory for every academic staff in Nigeria.

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

Background to the Study

Emotional Health Problems appear to be on the increase world wide accounting for an estimated 37% of all lives lost annually. Emotional health problems ranges from common, mild, temporary depression, anger, jealousy, envy, stress, anxiety, shyness, shame, fear to guilt among others.Interestingly, people can overcome emotional health problems or
learn how to deal with them when they occur. Emotional health problems can affect one or more of three important areas namely: social or family relations; Leisure time activities; work or occupational activities such as
academic work (The World Health Organization- WHO, 2001).

Work, that is, occupation including academic work can contribute to satisfaction or fulfillment of an individual’s aspirations in life. According to Teasdale (2006) work might serve as a means of survival, personal identity,
self-actualization and most importantly a means of keeping both the body and the mind together to an individual. The United States Department of Labour (2007) also noted that when the optimal health requirements
(namely: physical, mental, social, economic, and emotional requirements) of workers particularly academics are met they give out their best and productivity is enhanced.

Regrettably, Colligan, (2006) observed that there may be workplace phenomena that may act against these workers. In Nigeria particularly, there is an increased demand on academics owing to quest for mass literacy, professional growth, and job efficiency amidst labour crises and poor welfare packages for workers especially the university academic staff.(Ayodele, 2010). Furthermore, according to Jacobs and Gerson (2004), there may also be other life challenges outside the workplace such as, adverse home environment, losses, hardships, and disappointments, among others that act against people including academic workers. These demands and work related experiences as well as other life challenges may engender emotions that may negatively affect workers particularly the academics in universities under study.

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