Friday, 11 October 2013

Mental health training in Somaliland - Day 21. World Mental Health Day.

Thursday 10th October

Today is World Mental Health Day and we begin it with our fourth day of the 5 day TOT mental health skills course for doctors and nurses. I encourage the course participants to think of something they might do during the day, to commemorate the occasion. We get on with our teaching and today the participants use OSCE as a teaching technique.

Dr. Jibriil has been busy all morning arranging a celebratory meeting to commemorate World Mental Health day. At 10 am, we are joined in the classroom by many people. Dr. Walhad, the principal of the University of Amoud, Dr Ismail, the hospital Director, many of the faculty staff, public health officers and health officers of the region, religious leaders, community elders, and doctors including Dr. Jibriil and Dr. Gurguurte, who are both working extremely hard to ensure mental health services exist in Borama. Also in attendance is Fatima, who currently leads and trains 10 community mental health workers, and also all the female community health workers themselves.  

This is the first meeting of its kind in Somaliland to commemorate World Mental Health Day and I am thrilled to be a part of this. Many of the attendees make speeches and the focus is on mental health. Fatima is also invited, as am I, to speak, and later I am told that a community elder talked about the empowerment of women being a vital step forward, among other issues. This is a great thing to hear here in Somaliland. I am particularly impressed by just how much community mobilization there is in Borama. The community really do seem to have come together and mobilized in an inspiring way and from what people have translated for me from the meeting today, it is clear there is the plan among the community to continue to improve mental health services in this region. Today I really do feel privileged to be in Somaliland.  

I also hear from colleagues in London that Hargeisa has featured in a short documentary about mental health, aired on Channel 4 last night. Mariam, the nurse from the mental ward at  Hargeisa Group Hospital is shown on the programme. I telephone her after I see the footage, and tell her that she is famous worldwide! Mariam works extremely hard on the ward in Hargeisa and I am so pleased that her hard work and dedication is finally shown to the world. In her humble way, she simply says ‘Lauren, I like looking after people with mental illness.’


I finish the evening with a Skype meeting to London, where I discuss the mental health group work with the wider KTSP community/ leads.