samedi 9 juillet 2016

CAMH launches partnership to help Haitian voodoo healers New partnership looks to incorporate evidence-based therapy into popular traditional voodoo practice

By: Gilbert Ngabo Metro Published on Fri Jul 08 2016
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is entering the voodoo business.
Well, sort of. Through its Office of Transformative Global Health, CAMH is launching a partnership with Haitian voodoo healers, helping them serve the mental health needs of the local population.
Cases of depression and anxiety in Haiti have ballooned in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, but there’s a lack of trained mental health professionals, said the office’s program director Akwato Khenti.
In a country of over 10 million people, there are only 194 trained psychologists, 27 psychiatrists and three psychiatric nurses.
“People with even mild to moderate PTSD problems have no options to professional treatment unless they are wealthy,” Khenti said.
There are however some 60,000 voodoo priests, who use traditional methods such as storytelling and dance to treat various illnesses. CAMH is hoping to build on their popularity to increase Haitians’ access to mental health services.
“The voodoo community is often marginalized and dismissed as superstitious in Western societies, but it provides an important level of cultural comfort,” said Khenti, noting 40 per cent of mental health recovery is attributed to the relationship between the patient and the person providing care.
The partnership will aim to integrate evidence-based therapy into the traditional practice of voodoo, something Widner Dumay – who has practiced voodoo for over 25 years in Haiti – believes is “desperately needed.”
In particular, Dumay hopes incorporating contemporary techniques into voodoo will build trust with Haiti’s large Christian population, many of whom have been skeptical of the practice in the past.
He and a few other voodoo priests will be in Toronto later this month to support the Best of Both Worlds campaign raising funds to produce an interactive film for voodoo leaders in rural communities.
“We hope to learn new techniques and skills from professional therapists, because our work is already overwhelming,” said Dumay, who receives between 100 and 150 patients per week.

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