The situation and challenges of young people with depression in the urban African context of
Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, are investigated from a pastoral care perspective.
Depression is one of the more prevalent mental disorders. In African contexts it is often equated
with demon possession. The aim of this article is to investigate the interplay between Western
understandings of depression and African perspectives, and to come to a deeper understanding
of the way in which support and healing are approached in this context. The article investigates
the ways in which young South Africans in Soweto, their families and faith communities cope
with and understand ‘depression’ on the one hand, and the culturally related phenomenon of
‘demon possession’ on the other. The article proposes a collaborative method of providing
support which requires the cooperation of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, African
spiritual healers and pastoral caregivers.
Contribution: The article contributes to an understanding of the experience of depression
among young people in a context where both Western psychological ideas and African cultural
and religious beliefs with regard to demon possession, play a role. Professionals from the
various relevant fields should collaborate in order to provide effective support.