When myself and the two other volunteers met Patrick (the public health officer for the Shimoni sub-location) during the first week on the Health Project, we noticed that he had a book on community counseling. The next day during a conversation we asked about it which uncovered that mental health was just not a consideration that health care workers had as a possible disease. Patrick himself is doing his masters in psychology. He aims to gain skills in counseling that he can use in the community.
Shaun and I discussed the tools that we use in Australia to assess mental status (I am studying medicine and Shaun is a nurse) and wondered if that would be useful for Patrick. It would definitely make it easier for him to monitor individuals and pick up changes between consultations. The next day, Paul (another volunteer) joined us in looking up the tools we usually use and made sure it was understandable and appropriate.
|Health project volunteers Shaun, Sophie and Paul with Patrick and the staff nurse.|
We did a quick literature review on mental health in Kenya and discovered that the health care system in Kenya at the moment has trouble identifying and approaching mental health problems. A mental health issue is often put down to a physical problem. Often even the suffers don’t know that it is a mental illness. This makes it hard to gain statistics on the prevalence of such conditions. Hopefully this tool will help create a foundation for increasing knowledge and awareness of mental health. From there appropriate treatment and management will improve the quality of life of those living with a mental illness in Shimoni.
Sophie Alpen – Health Project Volunteer