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Training teachers to teach mental health skills to staff in primary care settings in a vast, under-populated area

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Background: The Arkhangelsk Oblast is an area the size of France with a sparsely distributed population. The existing primary care staff have had very little training in the management of mental health disorders, despite the frequency of these disorders in the population. They requested special teaching on depression, suicide, somatisation and alcohol problems.

Methods: An educational intervention was developed in partnership with mental health and primary care staff in Russia, to develop mental health skills using established, evidence-based methods. After a preliminary demonstration of teaching methods to be employed, a 5-day full-time teaching course was offered to trainers of general practitioners and feldshers.

Results: The findings are presented by providing details of improvements that occurred over a 3month period in four areas, namely depression inprimary care, somatic presentations of distress, dealing with suicidal patients, and alcohol problems. We present preliminary data on how the training has generalised since our visits to Archangelsk.

Conclusions: Teachers who are used to teaching by didactic lectures can be taught the value of short introductory talks that invite discussion, and mental health skills can be taught using role play. The content of such training should be driven by perceived local needs, and developed in conjunction with local leaders and teachers within primary care services. Further research will be needed to establish the impact on clinical outcomes.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Health Service and Population Research, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London SE5 8AF, UK;, Email: 2: Centre for Primary Care, Institute of Population Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK 3: Department of Family Medicine, Ural State Medical Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation 4: Psychiatrist, Arkhangelsk Psychoneurologist Dispencer, Arkhangelsk Region, Russian Federation 5: GP, Rikasikha Health Center, Arkhangelsk Region, Russian Federation 6: Health Service and Population Research, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, UK

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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