Home > Publications > 3 Zanmi Lasante Guervil et al Addressing Mental Illness Rural Haiti

Addressing mental illness and building systems of care for mental health in rural Haiti: Psychologists’ and Social Workers’ perspectives from Haiti’s Central Plateau and Artibonite Departments.

TITLE OF PRESENTATION:

Addressing mental illness and building systems of care for mental health in rural Haiti: Psychologists’ and Social Workers’ perspectives from Haiti’s Central Plateau and Artibonite Departments.

PRESENTERS:
Theresa Guervil, Ph.D; Handy Petit-Homme; Jean Jacques Solon

PRESENTER NAME AND TITLE: Theresa Guervil, Ph.D

Professional Title: Psychologist, Hospital de la Nativite de Belladere, Haiti

Organization:Zanmi Lasante

Complete Mailing Address:3 Lafleur Duchene, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Email Address:terrietoussaint@gmail.com

Phone Number:

Haiti: +509-48902318

Brief presenter biography:Theresa Guervil comes from Pestel, Haiti. She has studied psychology at the Human Science School of Universite d’Etat d’Haiti. She has worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres and Association Volontaire Service International before joining the Hospital of La Nativite de Zanmi Lasante in July 2012.

ADDITIONAL PRESENTERS:

2) Handy Petit-Homme

Professional Title: Psychologist, Petit Riviere de l’Artibonite, Haiti

Organization:Zanmi Lasante

Complete Mailing Address: Zanmi Lasante, 617 Blvd Jean Jacques Dessalines, Mirebalais, Haiti

Email Address:handypsy@hotmail.com

Phone Number:

Haiti: +509-37241868

Brief presenter biography:

Handy Petit-Homme is a Psychologist serving at Petit Riviere de l’Artibonite, Artibonite Department, Haiti.

3) Jean Jacques Solon

Professional Title: Psychologist, St. Marc, Haiti

Organization:Zanmi Lasante

Complete Mailing Address: Zanmi Lasante, 617 Blvd Jean Jacques Dessalines, Mirebalais, Haiti

Email Address:jacquesolonjean@hotmail.com

Phone Number:

Haiti: +509-32815918

Brief presenter biography:

Jean Jacques Solon is a Psychologist serving at St. Marc, Artibonite Department, Haiti.

MODE OF PRESENTATION

Panel Presentation:  Friday June 07, 2013 (45- to 50-minute long)

ABSTRACT:  

Background: In clinical practice, ZL is working to implement interventions focusing on capacity buiding in mental health. Part of this capacity building is to promote and encourage greater cooperation and sharing of responsiblities among providers: psychologists, social workers, physicians, nurses, community health workers and traditional healers, and stakeholders. Psychologist and social workers from ZL have developed significant experience addressing mental disorders and building systems of care in Haiti’s Central Plateau and Artibonite regions.

Methods: Despite the high number of people with mental illness and the lack of skilled labor, the ZL mental Health team has worked on different areas of intervention to help as many people as possible. Some of these interventions include reducing stigma associated with mental disorders, increasing access to mental health care, reducing risk factors for mental disorders, and identifying resources  and opportunities for individuals in order to offer a balanced environment that promotes positive mental health. Many people suffer greatly from stigma that is a result of pre-existing social and cultural sterotypes surrounding mental illness. For example, a person suffering from chronic depression is considered a liability, dismissive, or even possessed by an evil spirit. This further amplifies the importance of multiple interpretations of mental illness through personal and cultural beliefs. As a society, Haitians tend to reject and humiliate these individuals. These prejudices have devastating effects on people with mental illness. They are more prone to social isolation and rejection. People often misunderstand and hold these individuals in contempt. In addition, people with mental illness will try to hide their symptoms and end up living with depression or anger.

Results: Through our involvement in the hospital and in the community, the ZL mental health team tries to solve these problems and reduce prejudice and discrimination in the communities we serve. This is done through clinical service delivery, radio broadcasts, mobilization/mobile clinics, community outreach, psycho education, and assistance in mental health care provision. Other interventions tailored to the restoration of the psyche include group therapy, individual interviews, methods of relaxation, focus groups, psychosocial support groups and medication. Nurses and doctors tend to overlook the various complaints related to mental illness and it is therefore very important to integrate mental health care into primary care.  To do this, we are working to strengthen the capacity of community health workers, educators, church leaders, and social workers in the implementation of models of care adapted to alleviate the suffering and stigma of people with mental illness. Despite the limited resources of people in rural areas, we have seen an influx of people to mobile clinics and people are enthusiastic and commited to provide access to mental health care in rural Haiti.

Conclusions: The goal of this presentation is to discuss our experiences providing services in mental health care, developing a system of care for mental health, integrating members of the community, partnering with local and foreign investors, focusing on long term training to provide access to mental health care for as many people as possible, and to reduce stigma surrounding mental disorders in Haiti’s Central Plateau and Artibonite regions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SESSION

Psychologist and social workers from Zanmi Lasante, Haiti, have developed significant experience addressing mental disorders and building systems of care in Haiti’s Central Plateau and Artibonite regions. Through intervention and education in the hospital and in the community, the psychologists and social workers of ZL’s mental health team deliver services, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and work to build new systems of care for mental health in Haiti.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

1) Learn about the clinical experiences of psychologists and social workers who deliver mental health services in rural Haiti

2) Understand the complexity of how mental illness can present in rural Haiti

3) Discuss the need for integrative systems of care that blend traditional and biomedical understandings of mental illness in Haiti.

TARGET AUDIENCE

Mental Health Providers
Medical Providers
Educators/School Administrators
Paraprofessionals
Policymakers/Legislators

Legal/Juvenile Justice Personnel
Administrators
Students
Faith-Based Organizations
Community Leaders
General Public

Other

KNOWLEDGE LEVEL: Introductory (useful for professionals/students new to this field, or non-mental health professionals)

AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT: LCD Projector/Computer

ACCOMMODATION REQUEST: None