Mental Health Training for Primary Healthcare Workers in Lagos

Extensive Training for Healthcare Staff

The Lagos State Ministry of Health recently organized a mental health capacity-building training session for primary healthcare workers. The training involved 314 healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, community health officers (CHOs), community health extension workers (CHEWs), and social workers from Primary Health Centers across the state. These participants were carefully selected to undergo training that equips them with the necessary skills to recognize and manage common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, drug abuse, psychosis, and stress. Additionally, they were trained to handle psychiatric emergencies, including attempted self-harm and severe mental distress cases. The training also emphasized the importance of following established care guidelines.

Integration of Mental Health Services

This comprehensive training program aligns with the Mental Health in Primary Care (MeHPriC) project initiated by the Lagos State Government. The primary objective of this project is to integrate mental health services into the Lagos State Primary Health Care System. This integration is seen as a transformative approach to address the overall well-being of the citizens of Lagos State. It recognizes the interconnectedness of physical and mental health, underscoring the importance of addressing mental health concerns within the community setting.

Benefits and Impact

The Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, highlighted the benefits and potential impact of the MeHPriC project. He emphasized that integrating mental health services at the primary care level enables early identification of mental health issues, timely intervention, improved patient outcomes, and a reduction in the stigma surrounding mental health problems. The sustainability and expansion of integrated health services at this level have the potential to profoundly impact communities by providing accessible, effective, and empathetic care to individuals.

Guidance for Healthcare Providers

Dr. Ogboye advised the trained healthcare workers to be aware of their limitations and to explore referral options when providing mental health care services in their facilities. This guidance ensures that patients receive the appropriate level of care based on their needs. Additionally, the Coordinator of Special Projects and Lagos State Ministry of Health Desk Officer, Dr. Tolu Ajomale, highlighted that the training followed the World Health Organization Mental Health Gap Action Programme Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG). It focused on the identification and management of conditions such as depression, anxiety, epilepsy, and substance abuse. Participants were expected to diagnose patients, provide psychological intervention, make referrals for severe cases, prescribe medication, address side effects, offer psychoeducation and adherence support, and provide mental health guidance.

Closing the Knowledge Gap

Dr. Ajomale expressed satisfaction with the level of knowledge gained by the participants during the training. The pre- and post-training knowledge assessments conducted indicated that the training had successfully bridged the knowledge gap on mental health among primary healthcare workers in Lagos State. This achievement is expected to enhance the quality of mental health care provided to the community and contribute to better overall healthcare outcomes.

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