By Longkumer Ningsangrenla and PSS Rao
In-depth interviews on representative random cluster samples of 510 rural and 300 urban households were done during 2017 to assess traditional healing practices for mental health in Nagaland. Three main modalities of traditional treatments – herbal, mechanical and psycho-spiritual were used either singly or in combination. Nearly 30% consulted a traditional healer, 34.8% in the rural and 16.5% in the urban. 58.9% reported that the outcome was good. 60% in the rural but only 24% in the urban felt that traditional healers are still popular for mental health as they are competent and adopt culturally acceptable methods. It is concluded that for a majority of people in Nagaland, traditional methods of healing mental disorders still remain the first point of contact. While traditional healers are still popular, their number is decreasing and also their capacity to deal with increasing substance abuse, stress disorders and younger clientele.