Friday, 27 September 2013

Mental health training in Somaliland - Day 10

Friday 27th September

Today is the last day of the Teaching the Trainers Mental Health Skills Course. The students were due to have the last day tomorrow, though expressed that they wished to complete the course instead today, which is usually a holiday.  Participants lead the re-cap session first thing in the morning, something they have improved at greatly during the course of the week. They comment that they have developed an increased confidence when teaching their peers, something they found daunting at the start of the week. This renewed confidence is visible by the rest of us and will stand these doctors in good stead during their careers as hard-working doctors here in Somaliland, where the pressures on them are great, given the need for their services.

The doctors have all, in their groups, prepared a teaching session for the rest of us, using a learning resource as a focus for their teaching they are using the WHO document mhGAP-IG, which is an intervention guide, developed to aid non-specialists manage neurological, mental health and substance misuse disorders. Today, the doctors’ focus is on how they can teach effectively using this resource. In order to really test their teaching skills, we as an audience challenge them, with more difficult questions, distractions and interruptions to their teaching. This is a fun but also useful exercise, utilised to try and take them one step further. I am pleased to witness the doctors meeting the challenge and overcoming them, testament again to how much their confidence has increased during the week. We talk more about how one might broach teaching difficult topics in Somaliland, mental illness being one of these such topics, and in pairs they present challenges faced in teaching about mental illness and ways in which they might overcome such challenges through their choice of teaching techniques. Again, the participants demonstrate both imagination and creativity when presenting their ideas. I am truly impressed by the doctors who have attended this course. The hope is that they may go on and act as leaders for their juniors, that they may pass on this knowledge and supervise others who may then rise up into the same roles.

The doctors complete various post-course questionnaires at the end of the day, in order that we can review the course and improve it for next time. A number of doctors also take part in post-course filmed interviews, which can act as a record of their views and expectations both before the course began and afterwards. They comment that they are happy with the way the course has gone and most of all their own progress. We award certificates to those that have attended and agree to meet later in the week.

I am pleased with the outcome of the training and will use the very helpful feedback from the doctors in order to improve the next training. It is likely that this training will be continuing in Somaliland, in order to allow the doctors here to take this lead role in their chosen specialties.