Health workers in the Upper West Region of Ghana are undergoing a comprehensive training which will equip them to screen pregnant women and mothers and their children for signs of mental distress. The training, which is sponsored by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK Government, is part of a maternal mental health project being implemented by BasicNeeds-Ghana. It started on the 25th July and come to an end on 29th July, 2016.
Categories of health workers being trained include midwives, community health nurses, general nurses, community mental health officers, community psychiatric nurses and public health nurses and physician assistants. The training is taking place in four (4) zones to ensure that there is maximum impact and reach. The zones are Wa, Jirapa, Lawra and Tumu.
This training comes at a time when Ghana is struggling to ensure that pregnant women and mothers and their children receive comprehensive maternal and child health services which takes into account their mental health. Dr Gordon Donnir, a psychiatrist and lecturer at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital is the resource person. The screening tool being employed is the Edinburgh Perinatal Depression Screen Toolkit which is a product of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
After the training, some participants shared their views. Joyce Agyin-Mensah, a midwife at the Nandom District Hospital said “I think the programme has helped us to know how to detect signs of mental distress during ante-natal and postnatal visits. This will help us know how to treat such women.” Regina Osaah-Awuah, a midwife at the Nandom Hospital had this to add: “It has really helped us to know how to use the EPDS tool to detect and diagnose perinatal depression and know when to refer for further management.” Albana Ayire, also a midwife at the Nandom Hospital said “this workshop has equipped us to keep abreast with current trends. Now we know what to look out for when women come into the labour ward. Now we know how to manage women and know the next line of action to take to save such women.” Queen Dogbey, a community health nurse at the Nandom Hospital intimated that “at first, we used to think that everyone had some bit of mental illness but the training has dispelled this notion. Now I know mental illness can only be detected when a person is screened. I look forward to using the tool at my facility. The trainng has also taught me that there are several treatment options available to manage mental illness. “