The development of a model of training in child psychiatry for non-physician clinicians in Ethiopia

Type Journal Article - Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health
Title The development of a model of training in child psychiatry for non-physician clinicians in Ethiopia
Volume 8
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
The lack of trained mental health professionals has been an important barrier to establishing mental health services in low income countries. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development and implementation of child psychiatry training within a graduate program in mental health for non-physician clinicians in Ethiopia.

The existing needs for competent practitioners in child psychiatry were identified through discussions with psychiatrists working in Ethiopia as well as with relevant departments within the Federal Ministry of Health Ethiopia (FMOHE). As part of a curriculum for a two year Master of Science (MSC) in Mental Health program for non-physician clinicians, child psychiatry training was designed and implemented by Jimma University with the involvement of experts from Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopia, and Ludwig-Maximillian’s University, (LMU), Germany. Graduates gave feedback after completing the course. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP) intervention guide (IG) adapted for Ethiopian context was used as the main training material.

A two-week child psychiatry course and a four week child psychiatry clinical internship were successfully implemented during the first and the second years of the MSC program respectively. During the two week psychiatry course, trainees learned to observe the behavior and to assess the mental status of children at different ages who had a variety of mental health conditions. Assessment of the trainees’ clinical skills was done by the instructors at the end of the child psychiatry course as well as during the subsequent four week clinical internship. The trainees generally rated the course to be ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’. Many of the graduates have become faculty at the various universities in Ethiopia.

Child psychiatry training for non-physician mental health specialist trainees was developed and successfully implemented through collaboration with other universities. The model of institutional collaboration in training mental health professionals in the context of limited resources provides a useful guide for other low income countries where there is scarcity of psychiatrists.

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