[ View the story "Morocco's mental dilemma" on Storify] Morocco's mental dilemma How is the country balancing traditional spiritual healing with modern psychiatry to treat its mentally ill?
The Stream· Mon, May 12 2014 13:17:03
Stigma associated with mental health often
many people afraid or ashamed to seek professional help. But in many Muslim communities,
in the supernatural presents another challenge to providing care for the mentally ill.
Signs of psychosis are frequently
to possession by bad spirits called "jinn." People often seek help, voluntarily or otherwise, at marabouts, holy shrines run by spiritual healers well versed in negotiating with jinn.
all over Morocco. People go there to pray for help in love, physical ailments and relief from black magic and spirits. While the presence of marabouts is well known, what goes on inside is much more of a mystery.
One marabout is
for shackling and beating people who seek help from possession. Bouya Omar is a shrine to a 16th Century saint in a small town east of Marrakesh. For the believers, its healers cast out jinn from possessed bodies. For the skeptics, it's a center of fraud and human rights abuse where unholy men are eager to cash in on the suffering of the mentally ill.
This hidden-camera investigation gives a glimpse into Bouya Omar.
ضريح بويا عمر للامراض العقليةbrarabplus
Aware of the alleged abuses inside the shrine, and the barrier it creates to getting patients to psychiatric care, Morocco's minister of health has
closing Bouya Omar for good.
But Morocco is making steps to institutionalise the way it treats the mentally ill. Last year, the king of
a new psychiatric center that would include 108 beds, consultation services and programs for children and the elderly as well as an addiction center.
But will Morocco's attempts to modernise its mental healthcare work with its tradition of spiritual healers?
The Stream asked its online community what it thought about the treatment of mental health in Morocco. Here's what they had to say:
@AJStream : there are only few people who can practice religious healing, the best way is pshychiatrists !Karim El Hani
@AJStream I think the only right treatment is being realistic rather than hoping for miracles: mental illness don't disappear instantly.Charlotte Ryberg
@AJStream #Morocco #Maroc Exorcism still widely practised as a result of failing health and education systems.Lahcen Tazeroualti
@AJStream Yes I live in Morocco , and I think mental illness can be treated by religious healers of course not by sorcery and quacksÖussama
@AJStream what I mean by religious healers is not going to quacks asking for treatment but taking it from the Quran and Sunna of the prophetÖussama
@AJStream Usually ignored - though in extreme cases may warrant a visit to the local "hakeem"/remover of black magic for deflective prayers.Samia Shoaib
@AJStream As the case is unobservable, it is not well known. the education policies do not accommodate such people. They are marginalized.ismael
Kamran Ahmed speaks to The Stream about mental illness in Muslim communitiesGkwyM2Li85OsEyylAGgkUA
Ahmed helped release an informational mental health
aimed at Muslims. It says, "People can mistake mental illness for Jinn possession or Evil Eye. So, even if you feel that you may be possessed or cursed, it is important that you see a doctor to find out if you have a mental illness."
Jamaal Hattan speaks to The Stream about mental illness in MoroccoGkwyM2Li85OsEyylAGgkUA
Monday also marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. People are sharing comments and stories online using hashtags
My priority #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek to engage ALL incl professionals & academics to improve awareness of effects of stigmatising languageDr Alys Cole-King
Just because you cannot physically see depression doesn't mean it's not there #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek❤️
#Depression has made me feel so worthless, that even taking care of myself (a shower, eating) becomes a chore.
It's #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek this week. Keep an open mind and accept that anyone can suffer and anyone can help, even a little #MHAW14We mend each other.
What do you think?