Tuesday 19th February

‘The long journey from the head to the heart’ – a quote from one of the attendees describing the association between thoughts and emotions.

Chatting with Heather and Tom last night provided us all with an opportunity to learn about the year that they have spent here to date. Tom has been busy trying to prepare the paediatric hospital in which he is working for an accreditation visit from the West Africa College of Medicine. This will also see a tripling of the staff group at the hospital as services there are scaled up. The most pressing concern is getting an X-ray unit sorted. Mobile units are available from the US. It is unclear whether the unit will be delivered in time. Tom also talked about his concerns about trying to introduce a research culture to the hospital setting to help evidence the effectiveness of services offered. A major concern to tackle is also the institutional despondency that can develop in paediatric hospitals where the infant mortality can be very high. People who entered nursing to help and care for others can get burnt out when the outcomes can be so poor.
Heather has been working to maintain and progress the fledgling training programme that has been introduced for training nurses to work in psychiatric settings. The first cohort of graduates of the certificate programme qualified in 2012. Some of these students are now working towards completing the diploma programme. Unfortunately however the government have not progressed work to implement clear career pathways and associated job roles for these individuals. So the graduates have no vacancies to fill.
Heather was involved in progressing the  mental health policy for SL that was supported by the First Lady of SL (who is a trained psychotherapist). Heather  is currently involved in efforts being made to review the Lunacy Act of 1908!!
Heather and Tom have one year left in SL. They intend to get married in Canada next March. Heather is an accomplished yoga instructor who has been taking classes at the national football stadium on a Saturday morning. A busy lady!
I chatted with Alhassan (a workshop attendee) after the workshop. A truly inspirational individual. He was speaking about the possibility of setting up training for peer support workers in Don Bosco to disseminate ACT amongst a larger volume of people. He also spoke about a local TV show that runs on Sundays about resolving relationship problems. People phone in to the show and talk about problems. Alhassan believes ACT could be helpful on the show. It would be great to have someone as talented as Alhassan come to Glasgow to the MSc Global Mental Programme – intelligent, enthusiastic and visionary in his outlook.
Today concluded the Freetown workshop. There was opportunities to hand out certificates to happy and proud attendees. We also completed the evaluation of the workshop by asking participants to complete the questionnaires.
After the workshop Corinna, myself and Pious grabbed a beer together. Pious has organised the workshop in Makeni. Together with Mariama and Loma we had a chat about life in SL. The conversation covered important topics – teenage pregnancy, the availability of free health care for the first time and the impact that this has had on the quality of care, Tony Blair (who is very well thought of in SL) and the civil war.
Loma is expecting her first baby in May. She spoke about traditional birthing attendants who have historically delivered babies in rural areas and the complications that can occur with this approach in emergencies. She is happy about the free health care and the opportunity to have her baby delivered in hospital.
The ‘free’ nature of the health care is a bit misleading. You still have to pay for medication and blood transfusions.
Pious spoke about his memories of the civil war and the traumatic losses that he experienced at that time. It was a stark reminder of the difficult times that the country experienced in the recent past.
Tonight we had a team meeting to debrief after the workshop. Very constructive. Tomorrow we have lots of visits to places of interest including Kissy Psychiatric Hospital.
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