Government of Japan Supports Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) Training in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Government of Japan Supports Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) Training in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Government of Japan Supports Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) Training in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Government of Japan Supports Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) Training in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

In response to the pressing mental health needs caused by the ongoing conflict and drought in Northern Ethiopia, the Government of Japan, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), supported task shifting mental health service provision capacity building training for primary care workers.  The Government of Japan has generously supported the mhGAP Humanitarian Intervention Guide (HIG) Training of Trainers (TOT) program held in Bahir Dar, Amhara Region, from June 3-7, 2024.

The emergency situation in Northern Ethiopia has led to widespread psychological trauma among the affected population, significantly straining the psychosocial support system. The region hosts over 813,856 internally displaced people (IDPs) and 111,741 individuals impacted by the conflict in Sudan, increasing the demand for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS).

Dr Addisalem Yilma, WHO Ethiopia Bahirdar hub field coordinator stated, “In response to this crisis, the WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP) aims to enhance the capacity of general healthcare workers to manage Mental, Neurological, and Substance use (MNS) problems. This training initiative was requested by the Regional Health Bureau and the Amhara Public Health Institute.”

Kalkidan Haile, Mental Health Coordinator from Amhara Public Health Institute, reiterated, “The primary objective of the mhGAP-HIG TOT training was to enhance the accessibility and quality of mental health services in primary healthcare facilities, especially in areas affected by conflict and drought. The training aimed to address the knowledge and skill gaps of non-specialized health professionals and establish referral linkages across the Amhara region.”

A total of 21 healthcare workers were trained on mhGAP-HIG TOT, enabling them to cascade  training for healthcare providers in the region. Yalew Mebre, a psychiatrist from Dese Comprehensive Specialized Hospital, noted that such training empowers healthcare providers to offer quality mental health services and cascade the training. He emphasized the need for more attention and support, highlighting that healthcare workers are also affected by the workload and the situation’s impact.

The training has also integrated sessions on Prevention and Response to Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment (PRSEAH) and self-care, stress, and burnout management for health care providers aiming to better equip the healthcare providers to support the efforts to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse in the humanitarian settings and self-care, stress, and burnout management that healthcare providers take care of their own well-being in order to support people in need properly.

Dr. Medhin Selamu, WHO Ethiopia’s Mental Health Officer, noted, “The impact of the conflict is widespread. A review by WHO shows that community members are heavily impacted; however, the impact is intense among vulnerable groups such as women, children, older people, healthcare workers, and fighters who are affected by the ongoing situation.”

The five-day training session in Bahir Dar involved interactive presentations, group discussions, case studies, role plays, video displays of various mental health conditions, and experience-sharing sessions. Participants’ performance was assessed daily, with pre- and post-tests showing significant improvement.

The WHO expressed gratitude to the government and the people of Japan for their support. Following the training, further sessions, supportive supervision, mentoring, and coaching in participants’ respective areas are planned for the coming months.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Ethiopia.