Seeking Paths for Collaboration between Religious Leaders and Mental Health Professionals in Ghana
The treatment gap for mental illness is wide between low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization and other relevant bodies are seeking to reduce this gap through culturally innovative and sensitive programming. In Ghana, for example, only 2 % of the mentally ill access treatment, which means that 98 % do not receive care. Various discourses are ongoing to scale up mental health services in Ghana. One of these is the fostering of a collaborative framework between lay mental health workers (such as religious leaders or faith healers) and professional mental health workers. This article seeks to provide a framework within which collaborative linkages between religious leaders (e.g., the clergy, traditional healers) and professional mental health workers can be established. The article begins with a brief overview of Ghana’s mental health landscape, followed by a description of the challenges that make collaboration a difficult task. Next, the need for a holistic view of health in Ghana is addressed by examining Engel’s biopsychosocial model and Twumasi’s work on the complementary role of traditional systems. The essay ends by providing a three-step approach—understanding, task shifting, and broadened curricula—as a model to guide any collaboration between religious leaders and health practitioners in Ghana.
KeywordsCollaboration Religious Leaders Health professionals Ghana
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