As a Mental Health professional, my priesthood and spiritual journey have drastically changed the lens through which I view mental illness. Fresh out of grad school in 96’…I believed the more traditionally taught reasons and causes of mental illness. As a priest, many moons later, my views and opinions on all forms of psychiatric disorders, particularly psychosis, the contributing factors of psychosis and its symptoms are very different than previously understood, integrated and practiced.

For instance, I would now consider a classic schizophrenic an individual who presents with significant spiritual needs and gifts that are ‘misunderstood’, misdiagnosed and ultimately mistreated by many. An individual who presents in this existence to provide spiritual direction and to heal others. One who is connected to the Universe in ways that are unknown. One who is simply living an experience driven by his Spirit Guides and Ancestors. An individual that would benefit more from Spiritual practices rather than just the Western approach of talk therapy, institutionalization and psychotropic medications.

Furthermore, with the combination of spirit training and traditional mental health training, a clinician is able to also further understand the connection between trauma, family dynamics, family dysfunction and its ties to karmic debt and past life experiences. Assessing the need to address these areas, as well as spiritually breaking generational curses are essential to healing. 

I am truly grateful for what Spirit and the tradition have been able to teach me…the stuff you can’t find in Psychology books or Clinical Social Work classrooms. It has made me into a more effective, well – rounded, spiritually grounded clinician, better prepared to address the spiritual needs of the “mentally – ill’ community.
Otá Niwé