26 August 2018

Global Mental Health Project – Jamaica

We are becoming increasingly aware the role that mental health plays in general health. The World Health Organization, among others, are highlighting the importance of addressing depression, as it is a leading cause in what is being termed ‘burden of disease.’

In October 2018, a group of five students will be traveling to Kingston, Jamaica to have a real life global health experience. Together with UCU Asst Professor Robert Dunn, the group will be based at the University of the West Indies for a seven day period during the fall break for UCU. The exact program is currently being developed, but together with the Departments of Psychiatry, Medicine, Public Health, and Clinical Psychology a stimulating immersion experience will be created. Activities will include lectures and seminars with UWI faculty and students about public health, mental health, public policy, and clinical psychology. A pilot project involving the training of community health workers in delivering a short-term psychotherapy to patients in a neighboring low-income community will be shown to students and hopefully there will be opportunities for involvement with this and other projects occurring. Opportunities to interview mental health experts, service delivery personnel and patients will be plentiful. Students will be placed in a day centre for mentally ill, will observe treatment sessions, and will meet with traditional healers who work with mental health problems. They will interview and interact with patients in a general health clinic, many of whom have co-occurring mental health issues that are interacting with biomedical problems. Qualitative studies will be encouraged. Students will have the opportunity to experience the health care system in a middle income Caribbean country and to learn about the difficulties and opportunities in reshaping mental health care delivery. There will also be a visit to a rural community and to the exotic Blue Mountains.

Students will receive 2.5 EC for the experience. There will be weekly meetings in September and October, prior to departure, to discuss global mental health, Jamaica background and to develop an activity, research, or specific pursuit that will be conducted while in the field. Upon return, a presentation to the UCU community about the project will be planned.

The cost of the trip will is targeted to be €1000 max. This will include airfare (750), and incidental food. The Seneca grant, given to the project by University College Utrecht, will pay for all other major costs.

If you would like to apply to be a part of this project, please contact Robert Dunn (R.K.Dunn@uu.nl). You are asked to write a letter of motivation, including why you are interested in joining, how it relates to your academic and/or life interests, major, courses taken, and anything else that might be relevant. Admissions are rotating based: on the first of July, August, and September, application letters will be evaluated. Once 5 people have been selected, the admissions will, of course, be closed.