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Previous help sought by patients presenting to mental health services in Kumasi, Ghana.

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1
Department of Behavioural Science, School of Medical Science, UST, Kumsai, Ghana.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

There are four services providing mental health care to the people of Kumasi, Ghana. This study aimed to identify previous help sought by patients presenting to the services for an initial assessment.

METHOD:

New patients presenting to each of the four services were asked about distance travelled, previous help sought and time since symptoms of illness started. Staff also recorded basic demographic details and clinical diagnoses.

RESULTS:

Of the 322 patients presenting to the four sites,only 6% had seen a traditional healer whereas 14% had seen a pastor before presentation. There was a greater delay in presenting to that service if the patient had seen a traditional healer or pastor. Many patients had previously used one of the other mental health units in Kumasi.

CONCLUSION:

It is possible that fewer patients with mental health problems present to traditional healers in modern, urban Africa compared to rural areas. More patients consult with pastors than traditional healers and liaison with these groups may improve mental health care. It is important to maintain liaison between the four services as patients presenting to one clinic may have presented previously to another local clinic.

PMID:
14999453
DOI:
10.1007/s00127-004-0725-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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