GHES LMIC Fellow 2017-2018
Home Institution: University of Ghana
U.S. Institution: Yale University
Project Title: Expectations, Experiences, and Preferences of Individuals with Mental Illness at the Mount Horeb Prayer Camp in Ghana.
People living with severe mental illness, account for 650,000 of Ghana’s population of 21.6 million. The treatment gap (i.e. those individuals who may have mental illness and are not getting adequate treatment) is estimated to be as high as 98% in Ghana. Many Ghanaians hold a multiplicity of beliefs about illness causation, including psycho-social, biological and spiritual beliefs. Regardless of educational level or gender, research suggests that many Ghanaians perceive mental illness as being partly caused by evil spirits or as punishment from a deity. Due to the belief that mental illness is of spiritual origin, faith based centres are usually the first points of call for affected persons. These institutions however have been sighted for abuse of the rights of the individuals seeking care.
The Mental Health Law (Act 846, 2012) emphasizes community-based care over institutionalization, the protection of human rights, and collaboration with faith based and traditional healers. However, little is known about expectations, experiences and preferences of individuals with mental illness regarding treatment received in prayer centers. In addition, views regarding treatment provided in psychiatric institutions, including the role of beliefs around causes of mental illness, have not been well explored.
The proposed research aims to provide essential insights into the views of persons with mental illness regarding treatment alternatives, and thereby inform the development of policy and interventions that are consistent with patient preferences. The Mount Horeb prayer camp is a faith healing institution in Mamfe-Akwapem, a town in the Eastern Region of Ghana whose mission is to free individuals from mental illness using a ministry of fasting and prayer.
The study will explore the expectations, experiences and preferences of persons seeking treatment for mental illness at the Mount Horeb Camp, the views of the same persons on treatment provided in psychiatric institutions and identify opportunities to improve the quality of mental health care in the camp.
Leveana Gyimah MBChB MGCP (GHES 2017-2018) Cocoase means “under the cocoa plants,” seen in the picture. This is a popular prayer ground. Underneath the wooden bridge is a stream, the main source of water for the camp community, believed to have healing properties. The water from the stream is used for all household activities including drinking.