Jamaican News

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: THERAPY MEETS VODOU IN HAITI Blending spirituality and evidence-based therapy for treating mental health

Voodoo in HatiTORONTO, ON, July 4, 2016 – CAMH’s Office of Transformative Global Health an-nounced today that it is launching the Best of Both Worlds campaign to sustain a mental health program that blends Vodou practice with mental health therapy in Port-au-Prince in Haiti. The campaign aims to raise $25 000 to produce an educational film for Vodou leaders to use as a mental health treatment resource that will strengthen Haiti’s health care capacities.

Six years after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, there is still a tremendous gap between men-tal health needs and available resources for local communities. To this day, Haiti is still coping with a severely overburdened mental health system. There are only 27 psychia-trists, 194 psychologists, three psychiatric nurses and one neurologist to serve a popula-tion of over 10 million. This makes it extremely difficult for the majority of local com-munities to receive formal medical care and feasible mental health care support.

With limited access to treatment, many community members have turned to Vodou to seek care. There is an estimate of 60,000 Vodou priests in Haiti. It is commonly reported that the Haitian population is 70% Catholic, 30% Protestant, and 100% Vodou, due to significant overlap with other belief systems. “Vodou is the way we live our life. It’s the way we eat, the way we speak, the way we raise our children,” says Widner Dumay, Vodou priest.
The educational film will blend stories about the Vodou approach to treatment with les-sons from cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), an evidence-based approach to care for mental health problems. This film will extend the reach and accessibility of mental health information and provide a reliable, sustainable and culturally appropriate mental health resource.

“CBT is a treatment we teach people to recognize their errors in thinking that leads them to experience low mood or anxiety. The goal is to help the client learn and use skills and practice them long after the therapy finished” says Dr. Christine Courbasson, clinical psychologist & CBT advisor to the project.
With the funds raised, the educational film will be distributed to 10 Vodou temples. These temples will be equipped with media players and manuals that will allow extensive reach and accessibility of mental health information within the Vodou community.

The Best of Both Worlds campaign will run for the month of July. Please help support the project and donate to the campaign to provide a sustainable solution for mental health care to local communities in Haiti. Donations will be accepted on the campaign’s Indie-GoGo website at https://igg.me/at/bestofbothworlds.

About CAMH’s Office of Transformative Global Health

CAMHs Office of Transformative Global Health aims to jointly develop, implement, and sustain collaborative programs for health professionals and allied professionals in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, with a primary focus on capacity building, and health promotion education and training programs.

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