Strengthening Mental Health Services in Malawi

CommunicationsBlog, Malawi, Nursing

Mental health is a critical issue in Malawi. Reports estimate that nearly 30% of patients in the country are affected by mental health conditions. Despite the significant need, the availability of mental health services is limited, largely due to a scarcity of mental health professionals. Stigma and lack of knowledge further limit access to much-needed services. 

Unfortunately, very few institutions in Malawi can help train specialized professionals. Additionally, primary health workers are most often not equipped to deal with mental health issues. To close these gaps, Seed partnered with St. John of God College of Health Sciences (SJOG) to strengthen mental health education and advocate for policies to better integrate mental health services into primary care delivery.

Last October,  Seed’s Associate Director of Primary Care and Community Health Nursing Dr. Kate York, Nursing and Midwifery Advisor Margaret Phiri, and SJOG Principal of Nursing Zelipher Chimlala created training sessions to share teaching and learning strategies with mental health faculty and educators at the college. The sessions included short lectures on evidence-based teaching and learning, reflection on current teaching practices, and ways to incorporate new teaching methodologies in the classroom to enhance student learning.

Participants at one of the training sessions.

“The eagerness of the faculty to learn new strategies for teaching was evident. On the first day of training, I was attempting to get the faculty to reflect on why they wanted to teach, what type of teacher they are, and what qualities make a good teacher.  By the end of the week, the participants looked forward to this time to laugh, compete, and learn together.” – Dr. Kate York, Associate Director of Primary Care and Community Health Nursing, Seed Global Health

Seed continues to closely partner with SJOG to refine the curriculum modules and work with the workshop participants as they incorporate new strategies to engage students in learning, critical thinking, and clinical decision making. We will also collaborate with them to reinforce new techniques based on the student-centered approach and help to determine if the new methods lead to improved student learning.

“We look forward to continuing to support St. John of God in their quest to become more effective educators. You want the students to learn, critically think, and make the best clinical decisions, and that’s why the educators are there. With the support of Seed Global Health, St. John of God can use innovative strategies to make that happen and, ultimately, to strengthen the mental health services delivered to patients.” – Dr. Kate York

Left to right: Kate York, Seed Global Health Associate Director of Primary Care and Community Health Nursing, Zelipher Chimlala, St. John of God Principal of Nursing and Zione Mugala, St. John of God Acting Dean of Academic Programs