Tuesday 26th August – Global Mental Health teaching at Makerere University

It was back to business today. At 9.30am, I was visited at the hotel by Wietse Tol, a Dutch Psychologist working with the Peter C Alderman Foundation (http://www.petercaldermanfoundation.org) in Uganda who is also employed as a faculty member at John Hopkins University in Maryland, United States. Wietse has conducted important Global Mental Health related research and has published a number of important papers in the area (including a paper that contributed to the 2011 2nd Lancet Series in Global Mental Health). Wietse and I have corresponded by email in recent months, so it was great to meet with him in person. It was fantastic to learn about his experiences working in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burundi and Tanzania. He has been living in Uganda with his wife since January. We spoke for 90 minutes about issues of mutual interest. There are clearly areas of overlap in the work we are doing and hopefully there will be opportunities for collaborations in the future. Wietse was heading back to the United States this evening to help welcome new students at John Hopkins. I wished him well for his journey and we parted with a handshake.

Rosco and John picked me at 11.00am and we headed to the University of Makerere. I had the honour of meeting with Rosco’s Head of Department (Dr Janet Nambi). It was fascinating to chat with her and Rosco about the work that Clinical Psychologists are doing in Uganda and hear about some of the challenges that they face. I presented the Head of Department with a Quaich (a ceremonial drinking dish; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaich) that historically was exchanged between Scottish clans to demonstrate collaboration. This particular quaich was inscribed with the University of Glasgow crest. The gift was very warmly received and signifies the growing collaboration between the Institute of Health and Well-being, University of Glasgow and the Department of Psychology at the University of Makerere.

We had a delicious lunch of maize, sweet potato, rice, stewed beef and some ground-nut sauce. I decided to pass on the ‘Irish Potatoes’ that are served widely in Uganda – not wishing to seem too clichéd of course! Irish potatoes are the potato cultivars that are eaten in Ireland, UK and a host of other countries, the ‘Irish’ prefix helps to distinguish them from sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas).

We then made a beeline to the venue for my teaching (room 9). It was great to deliver my first teaching session on Global Mental Health in Africa. The session was scheduled for 2.5 hours and we made good use of the time. The students (a mix of counseling psychology, clinical psychology and psychology undergraduates) engaged well with the material. There were some great questions and lively discussions. It was a fantatsic opportunity for me to also learn from the students! After the teaching session, Dr Nambi kindly invited me to sign the departmental visitors book, which I was very honoured to do.

This evening was spent looking over slides for the workshop tomorrow and trying to get to some work-related emails. Alas, the internet connection is not the most reliably, but it is important to get these things in perspective.

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