Tuesday, 30 November 2010 16:34
A four day Mental Health First Aid training workshop began in Kathmandu on Monday under the aegis of the Himalayan Development International (HDI) UK, South Asian Forum on Mental Health and Psychiatry- Nepal (SAF-N) and National Health Training Centre (NHTC). The training aims to train health assistants and social workers working in the mental health sector in Nepal to be able to provide first aid to the victims of mental health problems until they could receive proper treatment.
“If you could implement what you learn here in your village at the grassroots level it will make a huge difference in the life of people suffering from mental health,” said Dr. Kedar Narsing KC, President of Nepal Medical Association (NMA). “More needs to be done by the government in terms of prioritising programmes, budget allocation and training all levels of human resources to properly address the growing scourge of mental illness among the Nepalese,” he added.
Experts and social workers working in the mental health sector believe that up to 30 percent of the Nepalese could be suffering from some form of mental health disorders in Nepal. However, no study has been done in Nepal to date to find out the real magnitude of the problem relating to mental health.
Nepal has a population of nearly 30 million but there are only 52 psychiatrists, less than 100 psychiatric nurses and one national level hospital to treat people suffering from mental health related problems. However, it is heartening to note that the number of non-governmental not for profit institutions are gradually increasing many of which are established by the people who suffer from some form of mental problems.
“Nepal has all the reasons and ingredients to have a huge number of mental health problems among its population,” said senior psychiatrist Dr. Dhurba Man Shrestha who chaired the inaugural function of the training workshop. “The ongoing political disturbances, continued socio-political conflict, increasing unemployment, increasing migration of youth and economically active population, increase in substance misuse, widening gap between the rich and the poor and rise in poverty lead to depression and other mental problems”.
Matrika Dhakal, Chairman, KOSHISH, a National Mental Health Self-Help Organization, said a lot needs to be done by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) to support organisations trying to help themselves in the mental health sector but the beginning could be the establishment of a Mental Health Division within the MoHP which will facilitate all the 30 or so national organisations as well international organisations like HDI, which has been organising training programmes in the area of mental health in Nepal, to address this issue.
Betty Kitchnner and Prof. Anthony Jorm, the experts who developed Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training programme in Australia in 2001 are conducting training at the workshop. MHFA is currently being practiced in 16 countries by social workers and volunteers including in South Africa, Korea and Hong Kong to Japan. After 12 hours training participants of MHFA training workshop in Nepal too will be able to provide the emergency aid to the Nepalese people. Currently 30 participants representing Mental Hospital, Maryknoll Nepal Ashadeep, Koshish, Centre for Mental Health and Counseling Nepal (CMC-N), Asian Pharmaceutical etc are attending the training.
Dr. Arun Kumar Jha currently volunteering from HDI UK, Dr. Pramod Swyangwa, Head of the Psychiatry Department at BP Koirala Health Institute for Health Sciences, Dr. Ravi Shakya from Mental Health and Prabhat Kiran Pradhan from Maryknoll Nepal are facilitating the training workshop with the objective to adapt Mental Health First Aid manual developed by the Australians to make it suitable for the use in Nepal.