The role of traditional and faith healers in mental health

30 August, 2020

A leap of faith for more effective mental health care

Charlotte Hanlon

VOLUME 396, ISSUE 10251, P584-585, AUGUST 29, 2020

Published:August 29, 2020

Traditional and faith healers (TFHs) play an important, but contested, part in the response to mental health roblems around the globe. Particularly for severe mental health conditions, such as psychosis, TFHs are often the first contact when help is sought by individuals and families in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

In part, TFHs inhabit this privileged position due to a scarcity of accessible alternatives, but their approach might also be more acceptable to communities because of shared world views about causes of mental ill-health and processes of healing. Policy documents and commentaries frequently call for greater collaboration with TFHs as

part of efforts to scale up access to mental health care. However, this collaboration has mostly not happened, due in part to concerns about harmful practices and an absence of evidence on safety and effectiveness of TFH care.

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: