Alice Bradley, GHLI volunteer
Recently, I had the great opportunity to serve as a research assistant with the GHLI during a trip to Ghana to observe the state of mental health in that country. So many aspects about my trip with GHLI to Ghana were memorable, but it was the tour of Mt. Horeb Prayer Camp that I remember most vividly.
These religious communities (varying denominations) offer treatment to people with mental illness. They are a popular alternative to psychiatric hospitals, with 70 prayer camps just in Greater Accra. The camp leaders view mental disorders as demons inside a person and do not use psychiatric medication, but rather a regimen of fasting, prayer, and beatings to expel the demons.
Beginning our tour, I expected to be immediately outraged, but instead I was caught off guard with the natural beauty of the jungle setting and the camp’s feeling of community. There was a market, people laughing, flowers, goats, and colorful buildings. Our guide had a big grandfatherly smile. I could almost imagine the appeal of this peaceful community.
Unfortunately, the peaceful feeling came to an end as we approached the “sanitorium.”