Psychological ailments and their treatment protocols: a case study of Swati traditional healers in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
Background: Evidence suggests that South African traditional healers (THs) treat various mental complaints. However, there is little literature on Swati THs’ accounts on this subject. The current study therefore, sought to address this gap.
Methods: Data was gathered using qualitative research methods, namely semi-structured interviews with 10 purposely sampled Swati THs practicing in the Kanyamazane peri-urban township (Mpumalanga Province, South Africa). Data was thematically analysed.
Results: Results showed that THs treat seven psychological aliments, viz. adjustment disorders, depression, mental illness due to ancestral calling, mental illness due to bewitchment, mental illness due to breaking of taboos, psychotic disturbance and substance induced mental illness. Generally, an integrated treatment protocol was utilised by THs to treat and manage these disorders. Most of these procedures are acceptable from either folkloric or scientific viewpoint, and have demonstrat- ed certain level of efficacy in treating mental illness.
Conclusion: Taken together, the evidence presented indicates that Swati THs use different traditional methods to manage various mental complaints. In doing so, they carry a large share of the community caseload for mental health, whilst admit- ting patients in their homes for extended periods of time, and also referring some (patients) for additional care within the Western health sector.
Keywords: Mental illness; Mpumalanga; Swati; traditional healers; treatment methods; psychological ailments.
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