Improving mental health and psychosocial support services of medical staff in North Kivu working with women, girls, boys and men affected by SGBV

In April 2021, MSM was awarded a grant to - in partnership with Living Peace Institute based in Goma, DRC - train 300 doctors, nurses and community workers in 18 health centres affiliated with Le Centre Hospitalier Neuropsychiatrique de Goma (CHNP) in North-Kivu.

The medical staff in the centres face main challenges concerning (1) identifying symptoms and signs related to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), due to social taboos on sexuality (2) identifying symptoms and signs of distress and psycho-trauma, due to lack of skills and knowledge on Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) (3) dealing with a lack of skills and knowledge of MHPSS treatment models. Men and boys are even more neglected, due to prevailing masculinity perceptions of men being tough and strong and not vulnerable, while evidence of rape and multiple violence of men and boys is growing.

The mismatch between the service that the CHNP staff and community health workers are able to provide on one side and the needs from community members on the other side seems to grow bigger. Continuation of conflict in the regions including severe increase of SGBV related to COVID-19 measures (e.g. domestic violence) is pressing on their services.  Current skill sets are not yet sufficient to offer the psychosocial support on SRHR issues that community members deserve without falling back on medicalising most cases. And the distance between the health zones and CHNP in Goma is too far for referrals.

The knowledge and skill problems identified will be addressed by training all doctors, nurses and community workers affiliated to the health care network in 6 health zones CHNP works in. By training the staff in both CHNP and 18 affiliated centres the practices of these organisations are aligned both internally and externally (with the strong support of the local NGO Living Peace Institute).

The curriculum includes the following components:

  1. Sexuality and sexual abuse related problems
  2. Basic skills and knowledge of MHPSS (mental health and psychosocial support) treatment of SRHR (sexual and reproductive health and rights) related trauma at community level for survivors of sexual abuse (war related rape, intimate partner violence and other SRHR related problems for men, women, boys and girls)
  3. (Ab)normal sexual psycho-development
  4. Early identification of symptoms and signals of sexual abuse and/or violence and other problems related to sexuality
  5. Working with men and boys as being aggressors and victims of sexual violence.

Each of the 18 cohorts (consisting of 15 to 20 participants) is trained for 3 days by 2 trainers, ensuring maximum interaction and expertise provided by the trainers. The curriculum is developed based on preceding formative research, carried out in June and July 2021.

Thus, informed by formative research, (para)medical staff is trained to apply a gender sensitive lens on treatment of SGBV survivors, including male survivors, and to include family/social peer groups of survivors to ensure proper follow up after treatment. The training methods used include interactive debates, role plays, videos, presentations and case studies. Further, an educational film is made for later use. This will be an educational/awareness film on SRHR and MHPSS at community level and it is used to show to health care providers and community workers.

Additionally, after participants of the community health centres have completed their training, the trainers will revisit each centre and assist the trainees whilst they are attending to their patients with SRHR and MHPSS related problems. The trainers will then supervise on the spot and 'train in action'.

This TMT+ project runs from May 2021 to March 2022 and is managed by Dr. Astrid ter Wiel

Orange Knowledge Programme
This Tailor-Made-Training are part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

MSM's International Projects and Consultancies Department

This project is part of MSM’s International Project and Consultancies Department. The department is an is an expert centre on local economic development in emerging and developing markets.​ We capacitate managers and professionals from government, private sector, NGOs, and post-secondary education in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. We offer consultancy and customized training programs, and we manage complex projects in key sectors, e.g. water, agriculture and health. For more information click here.

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