Integrating mental health services into primary health care system

Health workers in the country will soon be able to provide basic mental health services starting from the Primary Health Centres. The health ministry will send about fifty master trainers for mental health training in India. The master trainers will then train the general health staff in the country. The health minister said this initiative is in line with the Paro Declaration on mental health.

The ministry is collaborating with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to train the first group of master trainers.

The Paro Declaration adopted by the member states of the WHO’s South-East Asia region in September, last year, called for addressing mental health through primary and community engagement.

“Mental health services are available in Thimphu. Now through the Declaration, we are saying every health worker in the peripheral PHCs should be able to cater basic mental health services. Then they will refer based on the need of the patient upward through a very good referral channel,” said Health Minister Dechen Wangmo.

With the training, the primary health workers will be able to provide basic mental health services such as picking up early signs and symptoms and referrals if needed.

Besides training human resources, the ministry is looking at all means to address mental health in the country.

“Through the Paro Declaration, we will also be investing in building the institutions. For example, through The Pema, we will be designing a curriculum in KGUMSB. So, a person who is interested in mental health can get higher level degrees through the KGUMBS” added the Health Minister.

The minister added that the ministry will also provide a comprehensive range of mental health services including rehabilitation and reintegration besides prevention, screening, early detection, and treatment.

According to experts, countries spend only about two per cent of their health budget on mental health.

For instance, the health minister said less than Nu 50,000 was spent on mental health before the inception of The Pema Centre. However, the ministry and The Pema Centre will now be spending millions on mental health.

Kinley Dem

Edited by Sonam Pem

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