Mental Health Dialogue – Faith-Based Perspective


Civil Society Organizations namely PPFN, CACA, NINERELA+, doctors and health personnel from the Defense Medical Center, TB Network Nigeria and PRAWA were at Gede Foundation to participate in a discussion that is centered on faith-based perspective of mental health. Key in the discussion was the perception by many people in Nigeria that persons with mental health condition are “demonic” and should undergo some spiritual deliverance sessions to exorcize the “demons” responsible for the disorder. However, the practice commonly used by some of the religious groups in relation to the management of common mental disorder and mental illness is the use of groups within the fold such as the women fellowship, youth fellowship and counseling units to offer support at that level and thereafter seek for medical treatment.

Religious leaders feel that many of their followers believe that they have powers to resolve mental health challenges. However, most leaders lack appropriate qualifications and experience to make in depth judgments relating to mental and other health issues, and simply tell their members to pray and have faith in their recovery.

Participants suggested that some religious leaders might benefit from formal training in mental health conditions which would be for the benefit of the communities they serve.