Mental health and the role of traditional healers

Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) (2022)

11 pages

Please cite as: Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) (2022) Mental health and the role of traditional healers. Available at:

The provision of treatment, care and rehabilitation services for people with Mental, Neurological and Substance use (MNS) disorders is a multisectoral responsibility and affects various communities in South Africa and other challenged economies in Africa. MNS disorders are common, often disabling and associated with increasing premature mortality. Traditional healers have a unique role to play in MNS disorders especially in resource-limited settings. It was estimated that there are about 200,000 traditional healers as compared to 975 registered psychiatrists - who mostly practise in urban areas and the private sector. Traditional healers are highly accessible and accepted as health practitioners in Sub-Saharan countries. Traditional healers and those linked to faith-based organisations play a significant role in providing services for people with MNS disorders and are often an entry point into systems of care. These providers, therefore, could play a significant role in identifying people with such disorders, and in some cases, have worked co-operatively with health services in providing for the mental health and spiritual needs of individuals. There is a need to understand the role of traditional health practitioners in mental health care. This webinar sought to understand the role, knowledge, attitude, and practice of traditional healers in mental health care with the aim of encouraging their participation in terms of the treatment, care and rehabilitation of people with MNS disorders.

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Publisher: Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
Sponsorship: Janssen Pharmaceutica (Pty) Ltd
Peer review status: Non-Peer Reviewed