Taking adolescent mental health care global
Youth depression program for Central America
Kate Rogers - April 16, 2012
Youth depression is a global problem that needs global solutions.
A program developed by Dalhousie’s Dr. Stan Kutcher that aims to help primary health care providers identify, diagnose and treat adolescent depression recently received rave reviews during a three-day workshop in Panama City.
Dr. Kutcher, the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health, has been working to make the program available to countries in Central America. The course, titled “Identification, Diagnosis and Treatment of Adolescent Depression for Primary Health Care Providers,” was developed by the Sun Life Financial Chair team in Halifax to include information to help first contact health providers address major depressive disorders in adolescents and provide resources for assessing suicide risks and youth.
The program was enhanced and translated into Spanish by Dr. Iliana Garcia-Ortega, a native Spanish-speaking psychiatrist with the Sun Life Financial Chair, as part of collaborative work with WHO/PAHO. Drs. Kutcher and Garcia-Ortega then received funding from Health Canada under the International Health Grant Program to host a workshop in Panama City to present the program to government mental health decision makers, key mental health and primary care providers from Central America and senior PAHO representatives.
Success through collaboration
The workshop, which took place March 6-9, not only trained participants in the program, but laid the groundwork for a Central America child and youth mental health collaborative network.
“We are very, very pleased so far,” says Dr. Kutcher, who is also director of the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization Collaborating Center in Mental Health Policy and Training at Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre. “The program has been a huge success and we have received tremendous support.”
Dr. Jorge J. Rodriguez, senior advisor in mental health for PAHO/WHO was also very happy with the results of the event.
“The workshop was an example of successful joint effort between PAHO and WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center on Mental Health of the Dalhousie University,” he said. “The participants established a clear and strong commitment to continue working on this proposal in their respective countries.”
Representatives from Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama all committed to moving the project forward and implementing the program in their respective countries.