Cultural explanations of depression in children among the Baganda
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This study sought to explore the local and cultural meanings of depression in children aged ten years and below within the Baganda cultural groupings; how the various meanings, different perceptions and interpretations of concepts influence treatment seeking. Also the study sought to explore experiences that the parents go through in the process of taking care of children suffering from depression in Buganda. In relation to this study, several researchers who have researched about mental illnesses, have documented that Africans perceive mental illnesses is a result of witchcraft, demon possession, evil spirits, supernatural powers, to mention but a few. A number of studies such as Daar (2011); Zweig (1993); WHO (2008), among others, have been conducted on the meanings attributed to mental health conditions, especially among adults. However, little if anything, is known about meanings attached to depression as a mental health condition among children in Buganda, To accomplish the study, the researcher applied several research methodologies which included: in- depth interviews, focus group discussions, research design, participant observations, and purposive sampling technique Meaningful data was therefore collected, analyzed and conclusions were drawn. This was done amidst limitations and some challenges which the researcher had to overcome in order to accomplish the study. Among the inferences made, the researcher discovered that just like many cultures in the world, the Baganda also perceive depression as mental health condition attributed to supernatural powers, evil spirits, demon possession and ancestral spirits, but some few Baganda think that a child has just a natural cause meaning that a child is born like that and others think a child is just sad. These perceptions have led to people in Buganda with depressed children to seek treatment in a certain pattern, starting from the traditional healers, shrines, and then churches and lastly trained medical personnel. In addition to that, because of their perceptions, they end up taking their children where they believe they will be healed. In conclusion therefore, people attribute depression among children to be as a result of ancestral spirits, demon possession, bewitched and supernatural powers and others think that a child is born like that and therefore as a result, this affects treatment seeking where by people end up seeking treatment with traditional healers, shrines, hospitals churches among others and if all that has not worked out they resort to going to churches. The parents/caregivers also go through a lot while treating these children in the sense that they lack financial support to support them, lack of cooperation, ignorance on how to council the children among others. The dissertation will be important in differentiating depression in children from other mental illnesses. It will also be crucial in sensitizing traditional healers, care givers and health workers on the perceptions that the Baganda have towards the depressed children which will result into proper care giving and the right treatment to the affected children.