GARDEN VALLEY, TEXAS, 22 May 2020 – During Mental Health Awareness Week, Mercy Ships highlighted the support for the charity’s West African healthcare colleagues and partners by initiating the first of a number of e-learning training courses in French and English on topics of basic safety and well-being.
The first course was titled “The Heart of the Caregiver” and was moderated by Dr. Lyn Westman, Mental Health Consultant together with Glenn Strauss, M.D., Director of Medical Capacity Building. An initial 1.5-hour interactive session was offered which will be followed up with additional eLearning options as the COVID crisis unfolds in Africa.
“Access to those working at the front line has never been more important as healthcare and mental health providers as well as pastoral caregivers struggle to deal with the pandemic. eLearning tools have given us a new way to make sure our colleagues are connected with the critical information and training resources they need,” said Dr. Strauss.
Professionals involved in this initial course included key workers from nations Mercy Ships has worked with during the charity’s 30 years within Africa and involved professionals from Liberia, Togo, Benin, DR Congo and Cameroon working in areas ranging from mental health, community health training, psychiatric care, and hospital services.
Participants discussed strategies for maintaining personal safety and mental well-being and had the opportunity to discuss issues within their own settings and set their own goals for improvement while encouraging others in practical applications.
“This is a critical time to support both the mental, emotional as well as physical health of our West African colleagues as they are on the frontline of preparation within their own national healthcare situations. It is important that they know they are not alone during this time when news of the virus in other parts of the world has created so much fear,” said Dr. Westman.
Mercy Ships is also involved in helping to supply PPE and medical supplies to partners in Sierra Leone, Benin, Liberia, Madagascar and Senegal. To participate in this effort go to www.mercyships.org/all-stories/press-releases/.
Although the spread of the virus in other parts of the world is already well enough known, she states that her African counterparts are working hard on strategies to contain the pandemic that has collapsed aspects of health systems within even the strongest developed countries, despite them having more resources, access to clean water and widespread hygiene measures.
A study launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that unless contained, the numbers could rise dramatically to 190,000 in the first year.
ABOUT MERCY SHIPS:
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.6 billion and treating more than 2.7 million direct beneficiaries. Our ships are crewed by volunteers from over 50 nations, with an average of over 1,300 volunteers each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills. With 16 national offices and an Africa Bureau, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on www.mercyships.org.
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