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Objective: There are currently no practising psychiatrists in Somaliland. In 2007 the first medical students graduated from universities in Somaliland without mental health training. We aimed to pilot an intensive but flexible package of mental health training to all senior medical students and interns using interactive training techniques and to evaluate its effectiveness by assessing knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Methods: Teaching techniques included didactic lectures, case based discussion groups and role playing. Informal feedback informed a flexible teaching package. Assessment tools designed specifically for this course
included a pre and post course MCQ exam and an OSCE. Changes in students’ attitudes were evaluated using a questionnaire administered before and after the course. In addition, a questionnaire administered following the course evaluated the changes students perceived in their knowledge and attitudes to mental health.
Results: The MCQ improved from 50.7% pre course to 64.4% post course (p=9.73 E-08). Students achieved an average overall OSCE mark of 71%. The pre and post attitudes questionnaire was most significantly different for statements relevant to aetiology, stigma and the overlap between mental and physical health. The statement most strongly agreed with after the course was ‘I now understand more about the overlap between mental and physical health’.
Conclusion: Interactive teaching provided a learning experience for both students and trainers. On site and distance learning based on the teaching described here has widened the scope of the training possible in psychiatry and allowed the provision of regular teaching, supervision and peer support in Somaliland. However, the current lack of local expertise means that important issues of sustainability need to be considered in future work
Keywords: Mental Health; Teaching; Resource-poor; Pilot; Innovative; Somaliland