FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda)

Gambia: Mental Health Training for Health Personnel Kicks Off At Serekunda Hospital

Mental health has been a grey area for many health workers and with the ministry's recent attention to the domain this has attract individuals and organizations to give adequate training to health personnel to promote the relevance of treatment and care for mentally ill people.

This has prompted the 'Elemental Well-being' in conjunction with 'Mental health leadership and advocacy programme (mhLAP) West Africa association for mentally disabled Gambia' (AMDG) and world health organization (WHO) to organize a six-day training for health personnel from 10 health facilities all over the country at a meeting taking place at the Serekunda Hospital from 29th November to 4th December 2012.

Declaring the training open, the director of health promotion and communication Mr. Modou Njie felicitated the trainers for bringing textbooks and other educational materials on mental health. He said mental health prevalence affects 20% of the population; that is 27 thousand of the population. He said mental health goes beyond mental illness.

Mr. Modou Njie expresses the importance the ministry attach to this training. Mr. Njie said his directorate has huge interest on mental health. He thanks Salifu Manneh for bringing such initiative to his native country.

Marion Aslan, Chief Executive Officer, Elemental Wellbeing (UK) said, they want to assist and raise the profile of the country. She said they have quite a wealth of experience working as physicist and nurses; that they came to extend their work and to add value to the mental health initiative of the country. She expresses her readiness to develop and compliment the government's efforts in the field of mental health.

Mr. Momodou Gassama the Senior Health Promotion Officer, World Health Organization - County Office, thanks the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the trainers for their love for the country and people suffering from mental illness. He also stated that mental health is everybody's business.

He urges the participants to listen keenly and take greater advantage of the course. He quoted lancet as saying 0.05 physicists to 100,000 populations. (2007)

Mr. Gassama said mental health capacity at the ministry of health is minimal that is why they he said they should capitalize on such opportunities. He stated that the trainers have kept their promise that they want to use the group as a cohort of trainers.

Mr. Peter Gomez of GAMTEL who doubles as the chairperson of the mental health stakeholder's council stated that mental health retards the growth of the economy.

Mr. Gomez said the desire to be in control of our own lives is a need that is born in each of us. He said Mental health improves the quality of life when you are free from depression and stress and said we live our lives to the fullest", Mr. Pierre Gomez said mental health is good for businesses, businesses gain if employees are mentally fit.

Mike Smith said they are here to learn from the trainees and the trainees to learn from them. He urged the participants to develop resilience and love for the work.

Mr. Salifu Manneh, a United Kingdom trained mental health case manager, Gambian born, is currently working in the UK pairing with the 'Elementally Well Being' to bring the training to the doorsteps of the health personnel also expresses his gratitude working with his own Gambian brothers and sisters in the field of mental health. He stated that they would keep the momentum going and they want to make an impact on mental health.

Mr. Manneh stated that they are not here to impose any thinking on anyone but they want to learn from each other, which can make some meaningful change on the system and to the processes.

The participants will be expose to the following topics: mental health and wellbeing, mental health status, facts and myths around mental distress, warning signs and symptoms; schizophrenia, psychosis/hearing voices; self harm, drug and alcohol abuse; depression and dementia; the role of medication; the role of self epilepsy and learning difficulties; legacy and effects of sexual abuse/rape; women's mental health issues including material depression and puerperal psychosis; children's well being and elderly wellbeing; human rights of persons with mental illness; pharmacology of basic anti psychotics; thrive- elements of time, healings, resilience, interdependence, vivacity, emancipation and practical tools, interview schedules and activities to help people in distress.

The opening was chaired by Mr. Dawda Samba, country facilitator, mental health leadership programme.

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