Hyenas Used as Mental Health Treatment in Somalia

Geo Beats
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In Somalia, the World Health Organization estimates that a third of the population has suffered from some kind of mental illness.
People there who have mental illnesses are treated in unusual and disturbing ways, including being chained up so they can’t move, or being put in a cage with hyenas.

In Somalia, the World Health Organization estimates that a third of the population has suffered from some kind of mental illness.



People there who have mental illnesses are treated in unusual and disturbing ways, including being chained up so they can’t move.



Traditional Somali treatments for people who are mentally ill include locking the person in a cage with a wild hyena for the night, because they think that hyenas can see the evil sprits, which they believe are the cause of mental problems.



The hyena treatment reportedly costs the equivalent of 560 dollars, which is relatively expensive, and people who undergo this kind of treatment, including children, have been killed by the hyena.



Patients are treated like they are possessed by spirits, and are often put in chains so that they don’t hurt themselves or try to run away.



One patient advocate known as Doctor Hab is working to make medically sound treatments available and protect mentally ill patients in Somalia.



Many people have post traumatic stress disorder from years of violent conflict, which is then exacerbated by the popular use of a stimulant drug called khat.

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