Pioneering new approaches in Honiara

November 22, 2013

Staff from Ministry of Health and Medical Services all over Solomon Islands gathered for a newly developed community mental health course.  Aimed to provide information that will inform future service development and delivery, the 10 days training comprised of short lectures, small group discussions and tutorials.

Expertise from St. Vincent’s Mental Health and NorthWestern Mental Health services included Ms. Margaret Goding, Ms. Bridget Organ and Dr. Ruth Vine.  The course aimed to provide the foundation knowledge of community mental health practice; mental health promotion and primary and preventative mental health care, as well the basic principles of psychosocial rehabilitation.  Cases and topics of interest were presented for discussion or given as assignments

The practical exercises in the classroom drew on the experiences of mental health workers in remote and rural areas of Solomon Islands, and the perspectives of families and communities.

During the course, mental health workers from around the country undertook a short survey to look at attitudes, and knowledge for the causes of mental illness, chances of recovery.

The mental health workers reported back that they found the mental health promotion work “challenging, embarrassing, enjoyable, time consuming, and a learning and improvement tool”.   The survey was seen as “a way of creating a mutual relationship.”

It was seen that emphasis on community engagement and these kind of surveys can help mental health workers, and government support, through resources, can encourage a holistic approach from mental health workers.  It was noted that the structure of questionnaires must be simple.  It was also noted that good team work was imperative to make changes, and also that the general committees of mental health needed to have a wide stakeholder group.

This training was made possible through a partnership with AusAID and the Public Sector Linkages Program.