Between the 15th – 19th June 2015, the Institute of Health and Wellbeing (IHW) of the University of Glasgow in conjunction with the College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS) of the University of Rwanda jointly organised a 5-day summer-school in Kigali, Rwanda that focused on the topic of ‘Global Perspectives on Mental Wellbeing’. The summer-school aimed to provide a platform for attendees to exchange knowledge about the development and delivery of contextually sensitive approaches for promoting mental wellbeing. In addition, the summer school also facilitated opportunities to: 1) Build international research collaborations; 2) Advertise the MSc Global Mental Health programme to prospective international students. I was involved in organising the summer-school along with my colleagues from the University of Rwanda – Dr Stefan Jansen and Dr Darius Gishoma.
The event was open to professionals (including clinicians and researchers) and students with an interest in mental health related issues. There were over 100 registered attendees from across the world – including 9 individuals from countries outside Africa (including Australia, Canada, United States, Canada, Sweden, Dubai, and UK), 23 regional African attendees (from Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania), and a large number of local people from Rwanda. Dr Yvonne Kayiteshonga (National Director of Mental Health, Ministry of Health, Rwanda) and Prof Phil Cotton (Principal of College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Rwanda) were guests of honour at the summer school.
The event featured contributions from presenters from Rwanda, Uganda, UK, Croatia, Holland and Belgium. Sessions delivered during the summer-school focused on a variety of topics and themes including: current debates in Global Mental Health; social determinants of mental health; the Recovery Approach; a workshop on psychosocial interventions; overcoming hurdles to promoting mental health and well-being; promoting human rights and social inclusion; mental health in emergency situations, and expert panel discussions.
The feedback from attendees was very positive. There were rich opportunities for networking and building collaborations. It is hoped that this summer school will be an annual event hosted in one of the Great Lakes Region of East Africa (Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania). These plans are part of a growing collaboration between University of Glasgow, University of Rwanda and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
The organisation of the summer-school is in keeping with the innovative work that the University of Glasgow has been undertaking in the area of Global Mental Health. In September 2012, the University of Glasgow launched the first MSc Global Mental Health programme in the UK that educates students about how to design and deliver culturally appropriate services for addressing inequalities and inequities in mental health provision across the globe. Twitter users may wish to access further information about the summer school via #GMWrwanda.
Needless to say, I very much enjoyed visiting Kigali again and spending time with so many interesting people. My thanks to Stefan Jansen, and his wife Alice, for hosting me at their home during my visit. I was made to feel very welcome.