Clinical Education Online: Creative programs emerging from travel constraints

June 22, 2021

The 2021 Ophelia Training will conclude on Wednesday 30 June, with over 100 Pacific Island health workers over the last 12 weeks attending the sessions online, and learning together about the mental health issues that affect children and young people.  Ophelia- which stands for Online Pacific Health Exchange- is a short course in delivering child and adolescent mental health services, with a structure that allows interdisciplinary networking and a focus on sharing best practices and evidenced based health care.

As a response to travel restrictions, Ophelia was first piloted in 2020, St. Vincent’s Mental Health, Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, and the Fiji National University, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.  The partners have expanded the course for 2021, now featuring;

  • 12 weeks of 60 minute online sessions, focusing on practice examples and sharing interdisciplinary experiences.
  • A structured approach to learning via reflective practices and peer exchanges.
  • Access and support for training materials and other foundational education resources

The participants in the 2021 group have gathered from a wider range of health settings, and bring varying levels of experience.  With an expanding technological capacity in the Pacific generally, the participants are from major centres and rural health settings in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Marshall Islands.  Some are accessing the training with their first few years of working in mental health, others have more than 15 years experience.

Thank you for this session. I am sitting and listening and realised that I have come a long way.”(Ophelia Participant)

At times, the technology has created difficulties, but the group are growing in confidence and capacity, as well as persistence.  Being able to record the didactic sections of the presentation, and sharing the resources after the sessions has been helpful, although not as good as being able to talk with each other.

 “Thank you everybody ,really enjoyed the session but my connectivity was a bother. However, I did sit and listen to the presentation…till the end.  See you all next week.  Moce.” (2021 Ophelia Participant)

“Thank you so much! This was so great and informational. Vinaka!” (2021 Ophelia Participant)

Accessing specialist mental health studies in our region can be difficult, and the WHO country guide for Adolescent Health notes that adolescent mental health and well-being are often overlooked.  More than half the group reported that they had not had formal studies in working with children and young people, including within specialist mental health studies.

“Thank you so much for this important topic and yes staff are the most important resource in a work place.” (2021 Ophelia Participant

 “It would be great to learn more in depth as well if we could have time to understand and being trained on how to use any particular assessment tool so that we could use it in our clinical practice.” (2021 Ophelia Participant)

With a young demographic in our region and with adolescences as the foundational period in the lives of individuals and for the health of our community, it is crucial that health workers will have a good understanding of children and young people’s health and well being.  Additionally, with the majority of mental health providers providing services for the whole population, there is even more motivation for prevention, early detection and treatment of problems, and the opportunity to set a pattern of healthy lifestyles and reduce morbidity, disability and premature mortality later in adulthood.

This program builds on the collaboration between St. Vincent’s, Fiji University’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and RANZCP’s Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists.  Further workshops are planned with a strong commitment from these 3 organisations to training and education of health professionals in the Pacific region.


2021 Ophelia Training Vinesh                  2021 Ophelia Training Sandra

RANZCP presenters during 2021 Ophelia Training sessions