Background: From ancient times, cultures across the world accept faith healing practices as an intervention for mental illness. In India, cultural norms and beliefs have been shown to play an important role in the way people perceive mental illness and use the available resources to treat them.
Aims: To identify cultural beliefs and faith healing practices related to management of mental disorders among caregivers of mentally ill and to assess the reasons for following such practices.
Methods: Data were collected from 200 caregivers of mentally ill attending District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) clinics of Kannur District of Kerala. A descriptive survey design was used. A demographic data sheet and semi-structured interview schedule were used as tools.
Results: 69% were currently following faith healing practices along with psychiatric treatment. 78% had sought faith healing at the first appearance of the illness, while 92% had sought them at some point. 85.5% regarded destiny, and 50% regarded traditional rituals and practices, as a cause of mental illness. 92% felt people may not be seeking psychiatric care for management of mental illness due to fear of side effects. 83% felt people seek faith feeling practices for management of mental illness due to religious beliefs, customs and norms.
Conclusion: The study reveals various cultural beliefs and practices regarding management of mental illness. Attention of various stake holders is needed on the issues resulting from these beliefs and practices, as they can adversely affect mental health care.
Keywords: cultural beliefs, faith healing practices, mental illness.
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