Disaster-related mental health cases catered for through training of frontline healthcare professionals

─ collaboration between office of Nursing and Midwifery and Mental Health Unit making this possible

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Several nursing students, Emergency Medical Technicians, among other healthcare frontline professionals, will be engaged over five days in disaster-related psychological trauma and mental health training.

The specialised training comes after the University of the West Indies’ School of Nursing in Trinidad and Tobago, took the lead in developing and executing a project which seeks to broaden the capacity of nurses throughout the Caribbean in this regard.

The countries identified to roll out this training include Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, St. Marteen and Suriname. These countries were prioritised since it was determined that they are prone to disasters and in need of a comprehensive response to the effects of natural disasters. While the only natural disaster Guyana is susceptible to is flooding, it was noted that the information which will be disseminated over the training period has been deemed relevant and will be reserved as a focus area.

The exercise was realised through a collaboration between the Office of Nursing and Midwifery along with the Mental Health unit both fall under the auspices of the Ministry of Public Health. It is being facilitated by Senior Psychologist of the Mental Health Unit, Balogun Osunbiyi and Registered Nurse Jenella Trim, who recently completed training in Trinidad in this particular area, and who have been directed to conduct similar training exercises locally.

Chief Nursing Officer of the Ministry of Public Health, Linda Johnson in opening remarks, noted that while natural disasters cannot be stopped, we must at least be prepared for its effects.

“The project is aimed at developing a sustainable educational approach to prepare nurses to identify and address the mental, psychological trauma related to natural disasters at the same time leaving a strong element of ensuring that mental health psychological trauma through nurses themselves will be addressed,” she said.

Added to this, Director of the Mental Health Unit, Dr. Util Richmond-Thomas said the training is timely as nurses, and other healthcare professionals will be equipped with the requisite knowledge to render psychosocial support to persons affected by disasters.

“Participants will be able to apply the principles they learn here in a multiplicity of situations in our dear land of Guyana. Those of you who are familiar with psychiatry and mental health will know medication plays a small part in the treatment of these disorders, and psychosocial interventions are major.”

The training began on September 17, 2019, and runs until September 20. There will be a closing of the session held on September 23, 2019, at the Mental Health Unit’s boardroom in Quamina Street.



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