Pathways to mental health treatment in Ghana

Challenging biomedical methods from herbal- and faith-healing perspectives

Eric Badu*, Rebecca Mitchell, Anthony Paul O’Brien

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: The clinical pathways for treating mental illness have received global attention. Several empirical studies have been undertaken on treatment pathways in Ghana. No study, however, has systematically reviewed the literature related to the pathways of mental health treatment in Ghana.

Aim: This article aims to identify the pathways used to treat mental illnesses; examine the evidence about the possibility of collaboration between biomedical, faith and traditional healing pathways; and draw attention to the barriers hindering such collaboration.

Methods: A search of the published literature was conducted using Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL (EBSCO), Web of Science and Scopus databases. The search was limited to the articles that were published in English and released between 2000 and June 2018. The review synthesises both qualitative and quantitative data.

Results: The findings showed that mental illnesses in Ghana are treated using a mixture of biomedical and faith-based and traditional healing services. Faith and traditional healing pathways are typically used as a preliminary source of cultural assessment before seeking biomedical treatment. There is an increasing desire for collaboration between biomedical, faith and traditional healing pathways. However, several individual factors (attitude or stigma, the perceived efficacy of treatment and differences in the treatment process) and health system factors (a lack of policy and regulation, a limited number of biomedical service providers, limited financial support and geographical isolation of services) jointly contribute to barriers precluding establishing such collaboration.

Conclusion: This review recommends that policies, regulations, educational support and financial incentives should be developed to facilitate collaboration between biomedical, faith and traditional healing service provision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-538
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number6
Early online date5 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


  • biomedical and faith-based healing
  • collaboration
  • Ghana
  • Mental illness
  • treatment pathways

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