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Management of perceived mental health problems by spiritual

AJ Agara
AB Makanjuola
OB Morakinyo


Objective: Anecdotal reports and research findings have suggested that religious healers are widely consulted by many Nigerians in time of mental health crisis.The study aimed at examining the knowledge, attitude and practice of mental health care
among a syncretic Church's healers, and their readiness to cooperate with Psychiatrists. Method: A modified, pilot-tested, selfcompleted questionnaire was used to obtain information from consenting spiritual healers who satisfy the inclusion criteria. Focus
group discussions (FGDs), Participatory Observation (PO) and Key Informant Interviews (KII) were used to corroborate or refute the findings. Results: The respondents' knowledge of mental disorders was limited to psychotic disorders; their explanatory model was similar to beliefs of the populace. In practice, they combined some modern medical approach, some native methodology and some eclectic religious practices such as prophecy, trance and dream. Only 6% of them ever referred their clients to medical practitioners. Conclusion: Religious healers still constitute an important route to access mental health care
providers to some Nigerians.

Keywords: Mental health, Spirituality, Nigeria

African Journal of Psychiatry Vol. 11 (2) 2008 pp. 113-118

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eISSN: 1994-8220