The integration of mental health services into primary health care and the shift toward community- and family-based care for people with chronic mental disorders have been widely advocated globally (Breen, Swartz & Flisher, 2009:327). This resulted in people with mental illnesses staying within their communities during their recovery, accessing care mainly from their family members and secondarily from health care professionals within communities. Families predominantly relied on cultural African explanations for disease and illness, which usually motivated the choice of treatment options (Curationis, 2002). Unfortunately, most clinicians are not adequately trained to understand how culture influences the clinical manifestation of mental disorders (Breen et al., 2009:327). This sometimes results in people consulting African healers who are considered to understand illnesses much better. It is for the above-mentioned reasons that the study seeks to explore the cultural beliefs of parents as caregivers of adult children living with schizophrenia. The study is expected to extract insightful information regarding the cultural beliefs in relation to metal illness to promote a better understanding of the phenomenon with the African cultural sphere.
The goal of the study was to explore and describe the cultural beliefs of parents as caregivers of adult children living with schizophrenia in a community day care centre in Klipgat. The data was collected through non-probability purposive sampling. Rich, in-depth data was collected through semi-structured interviews from a random sample of 12 participants selected from the enrolment list of attendees at Mfihlakalo Day Care Centre.
The research findings indicate that there is an evident existence of cultural beliefs that perceive the cause of mental illnesses, especially schizophrenia, as birth complications, communication from ancestors, witchcraft or stress. Mental health care users are as a result excluded from society and labelled as aggressive and abnormal. The families of mental health care users have a positive perception of their family members living with mental illness, regarding them as special people suffering from natural diseases, birth complications, and lack of nurturing.
The research study concludes that even though the communities have negative perceptions of mental illnesses, the situation has vastly evolved through the years. Educational and awareness strategies have played a role in educating families and communities about mental illnesses, although the exposure has been noted as minimal. The research study suggests strong and effective psycho-educational programmes and support to promote knowledge empowerment and insight with regard to mental illness. Additionally, transparency regarding mental illness to reduce the stigma of those living mental illness and their immediate families, in turn promoting social inclusion.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2017.