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Nigerian cultural beliefs about mental health conditions and traditional healing: a qualitative study

Dung Ezekiel Jidong (Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Di Bailey (Research and Strategic Partnerships, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Tholene Sodi (Department of Psychology, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa)
Linda Gibson (Institute of Health and Allied Professions, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Natéwindé Sawadogo (University Institute for Initiale and Continuing Training, Thomas Sankara University, Gonsin, Burkina Faso)
Deborah Ikhile (Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)
David Musoke (Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda)
Munyaradzi Madhombiro (Department of Psychiatry, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe)
Marcellus Mbah (Nottingham Institute of Education, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 15 June 2021

Issue publication date: 27 July 2021

527

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore how cultural beliefs and traditions are integral to understanding indigenous mental health conditions (MHCs) and traditional healing (TH). However, Nigerian cultural beliefs about MHCs and TH are under-researched.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted a qualitative design using critical realist and social constructionist perspectives to explore Nigerian mental health-care practitioners (MHCPs) and lay participants’ (LPs) views regarding MHCs and TH. Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used to select 53 participants (MHCPs = 26; LPs = 27; male = 32; female = 21) in four Nigerian cities (Ado-Ekiti, Enugu, Jos and Zaria). Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed through thematic analyses.

Findings

The data sets revealed three overarching themes, namely, existing cultural beliefs about MHCs as spiritual curse; description of TH as the first treatment modality for MHCs; and perceived stigma associated with MHCs and help-seeking behaviours.

Originality/value

A study on Nigerian cultural beliefs and TH contributes meaningfully to mental health systems. Future research and policy initiatives could explore ways of optimising TH practices and community awareness programmes to increase access to mental health care in Nigeria.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The study acknowledges the contribution of PhD research supervisors (i) Professor Rachel Tribe (ii) Professor Aneta Tunariu and (iii) Dr Poul Rohleder. 2015 University of East London Excellence PhD Scholarship.

Citation

Jidong, D.E., Bailey, D., Sodi, T., Gibson, L., Sawadogo, N., Ikhile, D., Musoke, D., Madhombiro, M. and Mbah, M. (2021), "Nigerian cultural beliefs about mental health conditions and traditional healing: a qualitative study", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 285-299. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-08-2020-0057

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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