Mental Health

A Win for Mental Health

By Brian Maila, Zambia

The Impact of QUT on me, I must begin by making it clear that participation in the Australia Awards short course, “MentalHealth Care in a public health context” was the best decision that I ever made. This is due to the fact that this course afforded me the opportunity to both acquire new skills and to enhance/ refresh my existing skills thereby becoming a better employee in the area of designing, implementing and evaluating programs. The course facilitators emphasised that in order to make an impact one needs not to start big but they can start where they are and scale up the intervention to cover other areas that were not initially included at the commissioning of the project. This totally changed my way of doing things.

Application of my training

In this section I will share two important highlights after the training in Brisbane:

Teaching Health Sciences Students rotating through my ward on suicide and how they can take part in the prevention of suicide

On the 9th October 2019, I took advantage of the review round for patients which was attended by Nursing students and Clinical officer students from various schools to teach the students about the Importance of 10th October as a world suicide prevention day, definition of suicide, factors contributing to suicide, prevention and post-vention measures. After the Talk, it become apparent to me that all the 34 students had an increased level of knowledge and indeed change of attitude towards suicide from looking at it as a crime to looking at it as result from other phenomena like depression. The students become eager to talk about suicide within their school setting and indeed social media platforms. Immediately after this talk, one of the students wrote a message on her Facebook wall highlighting the importance of 10th October, the theme for this years world Mental Health Day, importance of the 40 seconds as a window of opportunity for intervention and encouraging everyone to save a life by taking part in suicide prevention.

Buprenorphine/Naloxone Treatment

Prior to my training in Australia, our Pharmacy through the Ministry of Health had procured buprenorphine/naloxone for treatment of opioid use disorders. However, no one amongst the mental health care providers had received special training in the running of Medication assisted Therapy for opioid use disorder and so the medication was not being used.After my visit to Biala City Community Health Centre – Alcohol and Drug Treatment Service, I developed an understanding of how the medication assisted treatment program works and gained confidence to make use of the medications as soon as I returned home. Upon my return, I enrolled one of the patients in the buprenorphine/naloxoneprogram who has since been in the program for 15 weeks. The notable outcomes are that the patient has not used heroin ever since he was enrolled in the program and has continued to remain in the program. This has resulted in an increase in the number of patients referred to my clinic. On average am receiving 2 to 3 patients with opioid use disorder per week at my clinic from th initial zero patients.

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