The Practices of Indigenous Healing Practitioners in Mental Health Care at Community Level for Mental Disorders in Zimbabwe
We aimed to investigate perceptions of the IH practices in order to understand the role of the IHPs in mental health care. We recruited a total of 60 key informant participants, 30 IHPs, and 30 patients of the IHPs, at the IHPs’ shrines in a settlement 16 kilometres north-east of Harare, in Zimbabwe. Gathered data were coded using constant comparison method with multiple members of the research team, enhancing validity and reliability. Our results revealed that there were many healing orders in Zimbabwe and the main ones were the herbalists, the spirit mediums, the diviners and the faith healers. The IHPs saw patients with mental disorders that were consistent with the BT diagnoses, and others with disorders that were non-existent in the BT. Common disorders to both IHPs and BTPs were the schizophrenia (kurasikapfungwa), depression (kusuruvara), anxiety (kufunganya), etc. Disorders unique to IHPs included supernatural, cultural or social problems and examples were mamhepo (bad airs), witchcraft (zvehuroyi) perceived to arise from evil minded people, and ngozi (aggrieved spirit). The IHPs used unique healing methods which included use of herbs, healing spirit, including counselling patients which involved use of rituals and prayer. On discharge and follow up, the patient was either given the medication to use later at their house; or a date to come for review; or a referral to a hospital for further management. In providing the service that catered for the supernatural factors, the approach met the cultural expectations of the patients unlike the BTPs who failed to cater for this service. The IHPs therefore, provided a unique therapy to patients in Zimbabwe. The IHPs should therefore be yoked with the BTPs in order to create a holistic therapy which cater for the body-mind and spirit. More research is required to test the IHPs’ characteristics before their adoption into therapy.
Indigenous Healing, Indigenous Healing Practitioners, Mental Health Care, Community Level, Mental Disorders
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