SUPERSTITION and MENTAL HEALTH in AFRICA

SUPERSTITION and MENTAL HEALTH in AFRICA

Superstition is a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false
conception of causation. It is a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary. Superstition has been with humanity since the days of the antecedents and so has been mental health challenges and illnesses. Before the emergence of science and modern civilisation, superstition was a reference point in many cultures. It is the lens through which people choose to view events and developments, especially those which they do not have an understanding about. Superstition has informed mental health perception and practices for a very long time.

As such, it is not uncommon to hear phrases among some communities in Kenya such as, ‘amerogwa’, ‘huyo ameharibiwa’, or ‘huyo amepagawa’ to connote someone who has been subjected to witchcraft or demons to alter his/ her normal mental functioning. In Africa, superstition still holds sway in the majority of the cultures and investment in modern medicine is still low. Nevertheless, mental health awareness campaigns are on the rise. However, it is still unclear whether there are changing patterns of mental health perception and management as more sensitisation
and information on evidence-based modern management methods become increasingly available to the population.


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