The Culture of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Practice in Africa

The Culture of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Practice in Africa

Edited by Emmanuel Akyeampong, Allan G Hill and Arthur M Kleinman
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/01/2015
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-01286-9
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In many African countries, mental health issues, including the burden of serious mental illness and trauma, have not been adequately addressed. These essays shed light on the treatment of common and chronic mental disorders, including mental illness and treatment in the current climate of economic and political instability, access to health care, access to medicines, and the impact of HIV-AIDS and other chronic illness on mental health. While problems are rampant and carry real and devastating consequences, this volume promotes an understanding of the African mental health landscape in service of reform.

Author Bio

Emmanuel Akyeampong is Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

Allan Hill is Andelot Professor of Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Arthur Kleinman is the Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University, and Professor of Medical Anthropology in Global Health and Social Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.


“Cultural, historical, and mental health perspectives on the sub-Saharan African context come together in these distinctive studies while also providing a sense of where the field of psychiatry stands in terms of African practices today.”
 — Elisha P. Renne, University of Michigan

“This book is recommended reading for any professional who desires to understand the ways in which politics, economics, institutions, and culture converge in the provision of mental health care, especially in low-income contexts. ”
 — Journal of Menal Health

“The Culture of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Practice in Africa . . . addresses a much neglected field of study and does so in a broad and interdisciplinary fashion. ”
 — African Studies Review

“Anthropologists . . . will find The Culture of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Practice in Africa to be a consistent case for the integration of psychological, medical, and sociocultural perspectives. With a topic as vast as African mental health, even a sizable book like this one feels as if it is only scraping the surface of the subject, but it shows the promise of anthropological concepts and ethnological methods in the study and treatment of mental illness, not only in Africa but around the world.”
 — Anthropology Review Database

“In The Culture of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Practice, [the authors] . . . shed light on mental illness in Africa and the way interventions are handled by psychiatric institutions and experts, including physicians and nurses. . . All the volume's chapters, which study treatments used to deal with common and chronic mental disorders, have been well researched and well written.Fall 2015”
 — Africa Today

“A review of the literature on African psychology or psychiatry yields few results in relation to the long history and substantial size of this mighty continent and the richness of its cultures. Thus, the valuable array of contributions to the edited volume, The Culture of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Practice in Africa, cannot be understated.”

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Culture, Mental Illness and Psychiatric Practice in Africa
Emmanuel Akyeampong, Allan Hill and Arthur Kleinman

1. Historical Overview of Psychiatry in Africa
Emmanuel Akyeampong

2. Common Mental Disorders in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Triad of Depression, Anxiety, and Somatization
Vikram Patel and Dan Stein

3. Schizophrenia and Psychosis in West Africa
Ursula M. Read, Victor Doku, and Ama de-Graft Aikins

4. Mental Illness and Destitution in Ghana: A Social Psychological Perspective
Ama de-Graft Aikins

5. Children and Adolescent Mental Health in South Africa
Alan Flisher, Andrew Dawes, Zuhayr Kafaar, Crick Lund, Katherine Sorsdahl, Bronwyn Myers, Rita Thom, and Soraya Seedat

6. Some Aspects of Mental Illness in French-Speaking West Africa
René Collignon

7. Local Interpretations of Global Constructs: Women’s Reports on Mental Illness in Africa
Allan G. Hill and Victoria Demenil

8. One Thing Leads to Another: Sex, AIDS, and Mental Health Reform in South Africa
Pamela Y. Collins

9. Health Care Professional Mental Health and Well-Being in the Era of HIV/AIDS: Perspectives from Sub-Saharan Africa
Giuseppe Raviola

10. The Role of The Traditional Healers in Mental Health in Africa
ElialiliaOkello and SegganeMusisi

11. Improving Access to Psychiatric Medicines in Africa
Shoba Raja, Sarah Kippen and Michael Reich

12. Child Solders and Community Reconciliation in Post-War Sierra Leone: African Psychiatry in the 21st Century
William Murphy

13. Using Mixed Methods to Plan and Evaluate Mental Health Programs for War-Affected Children in Sub-Saharan Africa
Theresa Betancourt