Can prayer and medicine work together to cure mental illness?

Dear reader,

The Hazrat Sultan Syed Ibrahim Shaheed Badusha dargah, in Tamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram district, has attracted people of all faiths for 400 years. But it hasn’t just drawn spiritual seekers – many visitors to the shrine have come in search of cures for mental illnesses.

The dargah is far from the only such religious centre. In Tamil Nadu itself, the Gunaseelam temple in Tiruchirapalli, and St Anthony's shrine in Thoothukudi are two other places that are believed to offer similar cures.

From the perspective of modern medicine, faith healing isn’t scientific. But in recent years, medical professionals and experts have realised that if people believe in it and seek it out, faith healing cannot be ignored. And so, psychiatrists and others have begun to collaborate with those who run these spiritual centres, to try and ensure that the mentally ill who visit them can get the care they need.

For Common Ground, Johanna Deeksha travelled through Tamil Nadu to find out how these efforts were launched, and learn about the successes and challenges they have faced since. You can read the story here.

A note to our readers: Common Ground is taking a four-week publishing break after this story. We will be back next month with more such in-depth and investigative stories. In the meanwhile, you can find all our previous stories archived here. And as always, if you would like to support our work, do consider making a contribution here, to the Scroll Ground Reporting Fund.

Ajay Krishnan
Senior Editor

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