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Mental illness is an important cause of disability in sub-Saharan African countries and is rarely covered in health-related development activity. This article examines the close relationship between mental illness, religion, and culture, referring to the authors’ experiences in Zimbabwe as an example. They emphasise the importance of gaining a sympathetic understanding of the religious beliefs and social contexts of psycho-social distress states, rather than simply translating concepts and ideas developed in the societies of Europe and North America.

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