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Psychology Research and Applications
PRA > Volume 1, Number 4, December 2019

Cultural and Local Concepts of Mental Illness among Rwandans Living in Finland and Belgium

Download PDF  (279.9 KB)PP. 104-111,  Pub. Date:December 5, 2019
DOI: 10.22606/pra.2019.14003

Jean d’Amour Banyanga
Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Social Science, Developmental Psychology, Åbo Akademi University, Vasa, Finland
The knowledge and understanding of cultural concepts of mental illness is essential to plan public mental health programs and aid projects in East and Central African countries. This study aims to understand the cultural concepts of mental illness and draw a useful framework that could inform the clinical practices of psychiatrists working with Rwandan people who were traumatized by their experiences during the 1994 genocide and its aftermath, living in Finland and Belgium. Questionnaires were dispatched in 27 different locations of Finland and Belgium in schools and churches (13 locations in Belgium & 14 locations in Finland). A total of 341 respondents (166 males, 175 females), 50 from Finland and 291 from Belgium, participated in the study. The findings show that Rwandans in Belgium were more satisfied than those living in Finland, with friends, religious leaders, and spiritual healers helping them to cope with their trauma. Rwandans in Finland, on the other hand, relied on traditional means (wedding and dance), medicines and the use of alcohol as a coping mechanism more than those living in Belgium.
Culture, local concepts, mental disorder, mental illness, Rwandans
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