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Should mental health patients be referred to traditional healers?

Psychiatrist Jan Chabalala has asked if different methods of therapy should be explored when dealing with mental health.

FILE: A Traditional healer. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - With mental health in the spotlight, there are questions around whether certain patients should be referred to traditional healers for help instead of psychiatrists.

Today marks World Mental Health Day, with a specific focus on suicide.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that suicide was the second leading cause of death among children and young adults between the ages of 15 and 29.

"Is this a spell cast by one's enemies? Is it a failure to appease your ancestors? If you sleep with a woman who's had a miscarriage, you're going to go mentally ill..."

Psychiatrist Jan Chabalala said that these myths around mental health were common in parts of Limpopo.

Chabalala was also asking if different methods of therapy should be explored.

"80% of African people will consult traditional healers either pre- or post-admission whether we like it or don't. We just have to make peace with it."

Chabalala said that through his work, he had dealt with many cases where families removed their loved ones from therapy even while they battled serious conditions.

The Traditional Healers Association of South Africa agreed that more needed to be done to recognise their work in the mental health sector.

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