Traditional healers, herbalist, prayer camp managers schooled on mental health disorders

| Updated Aug 24, 2017 at 4:06pm


Library file: Mentally ill patient in chain at a prayer camp.


Over hundred traditional healers, herbalists and prayer camp managers have been sensitized at a two day workshop in Bolgatanga on basic mental health disorders, epilepsy, best practices and rights of mentally ill patients.

Participants of the program, which was organized by Basic Needs Ghana, a non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to mental health care, were drawn from some selected districts of the upper east region.

The Regional Programs Coordinator of Basic Needs, Bernard Azure in his welcome address said since, prayer camps, spiritual and traditional healers were the most common and first point of call for mental health care services at the community level, it was imperative that Ghana Health service integrated the services of these groups into the provision of mental health care in the country.

He expressed worry that although prayer camps managers, spiritualists and traditional healers had played a key role in the provision of the mental health care in the country, some tended to abuse the rights of the mentally ill patients in their care.

Mr. Azure said the training sought to influence the practices of non-formal mental health professionals in order to respect the human rights of the mentally challenged.

He said people still patronized the services of traditional healers and so there was the urgent need to bridge the knowledge gap between the formal health service providers to have the best possible outcomes for people with mental health challenges.

Mr. Azure advised prayer camp managers, spiritualists and traditional healers to refer cases beyond their control to mental health units at the various health facilities in the region.

A Principal Nursing Officer in the Psychiatric Unit of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital, Victor Asagalisah said mental health authorities do not condemn the work of traditional and faith based healers and stressed the need for a collaborative partnership between the two professions.

He said OPD cases recorded on daily basis gave an indication that mental health issues were on the increase adding that the workshop had come at the right time.

Mr. Asagalisah called on societies to accept persons with mental health issues and encourage them to be treated rather than stigmatizing and discriminating against them.

Some of the participants were grateful to Basic Needs Ghana for organizing such an educative program and pledged their resolve to partner with mental health clinics across the region in order to provide best mental services to patients.

The workshop was funded by the Department for International Development (DFID-Ghana) under the theme: “Improving community mental health through collaboration with faith-based and traditional healers in the mental health care”.

Basic Needs-Ghana is a mental health and development advocacy organisation that implements and promotes initiatives to transform the lives of people with mental illness or epilepsy by providing access to integrated mental health care, social and economic services in the communities of Ghana.

It empowers individuals and their families and involve communities and partner with government and other organisations to influence public opinion and policy and enable people with mental illness or epilepsy to live and work successfully in their community.