A total of 238 patients who attended a mental health service in Ilorin,
Nigeria, over a one-month period were interviewed to assess the routes they
took to psychiatric care. Ninety-five patients reported that they had first
contacted traditional or religious healers when they became mentally ill.
Patients who contacted such healers included significantly more males and
Muslims and fewer patients with professional occupations. Family members
played important roles in patients' decisions about the type of
practitioner to consult. The author suggests that use of psychiatric care
in developing countries could be improved by training primary health care
workers to give mental health education to the communities they serve.