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Year : 2002  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 149-157

The Impact of a Community-oriented Medical School on Mental Health Services

1 Faculty of Medicine, University of Gezira, Sudan
2 Faculty of Psychology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Correspondence Address:
Diaa E El Gaili
Head Department of Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Gezira, Wad Medani, PO Box 20
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

This paper discusses the impact of the community-based medical school on mental health services. The Gezira mental health programme represents a collaborative work involving the university, the community and the government. It aims at achieving speci.ed objectives: (1) to modify community concepts, attitudes and practices concerning mental health, (2) to ensure community involvement and participation, (3) to extend mental health services, (4) to train PHC staff, and (5) to encourage research. The programme was implemented in three phases: preparatory, implementation, and evaluation. In the evaluation of the impact of the programme on changing community attitudes, the training of staff, the extension of mental health services, and on research, qualitative assessment, through interviews, focus group discussion, supervision visits, and review of reports are used. There is an overall agreement that the programme helped in raising public awareness regarding the concept of mental health, the care of the mentally ill and community participation. Members of the health team who received training as part of the programme reported a better understanding of mental health problems and an improvement in their handling of the mentally disturbed patients. Teachers reported an increased awareness of mental health problems in school children and a better collaboration with those involved in the handling of such problems. Social workers and psychologists updated their knowledge and skills and were well prepared to participate in the programme. Members of the different sectors involved reported a better standard of collaboration regarding mental health activities. These .ndings indicate that this programme, by providing a new model for health services in this .eld, has induced a large policy change within the Sudan. The community-based activities at the FMUG have resulted in a major change in the delivery of mental health services in Gezira State. The programme has resulted in a major shift in mental health services being provided by central hospitals to PHC settings. In addition it has stimulated research, thereby providing much original information that will help in preparing for future plans.

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