This article originally appeared on a Catholic news website called CathNews and can be viewed here.
Exorcisms and other faith-based cures have been blasted by the peak body for mental health professionals who have made a stern warning about the potential dangers associated with them. The Sydney Morning Herald reports allegations have been revealed of incorrect treatment of several troubled young women by the Christian group Mercy Ministries. Mercy Ministries, which is linked to the Hillsong Church and benefits from fundraising and sponsorship by coffee chain Gloria Jeans, is not in any way affiliated with the Catholic religious order, the Sisters of Mercy.
On its website, Mercy Ministries claims to treat women aged 16 to 28 years old by “providing homes and care for young women suffering the effects of eating disorders, self harm, abuse, depression, unplanned pregnancies and other life controlling issues.”
But three former patients told the Herald the programs involved “emotionally cruel and medically unproven techniques”, such as exorcisms and “separation contracts” between friends.
The girls reportedly left the centre suicidal after being told they were possessed by demons.
The newspaper report also claims Mercy Ministries received the women’s Centrelink payments during their residential stay.
Mental Health Council of Australia spokesman Simon Tatz says it is important people receive treatment that is evidence-based, for instance psychiatry and certain drug treatments.
“It’s about getting people into treatments that are proven to work,” Mr Tatz said.