The undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Mental Health are run at the College of Medicine’s main campus in Blantyre. Established in 1991, the College is the country's only medical school and is part of the University of Malawi. The intake to the medical school is now around 100 per year, all courses are taught in English and students receive an internationally recognised medical qualification.
The Department of Mental Health is headed by Dr Stefan Holzer, a UK-trained consultant psychiatrist, and supported by SMMHEP’s volunteer lecturers. The department aims to increase its size and capacity, expanding the number of lecturers and its research output, while building up a critical mass of postgraduate mental health clinicians and researchers.
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Undergraduate Psychiatry Teaching
The course includes lectures at the College, together with clinical teaching at Zomba Mental Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre. Teaching methods include problem-based learning, tutorials and case-based teaching in acute outpatient and inpatient settings. A Malawian clinical psychologist and a visiting psychology lecturer deliver teaching on psychotherapy, mental wellbeing and the cultural aspects of mental health.
Twice a year, a Learning Disabilities and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry course is taught to 4th year students over a one-week period. It includes a lecture series, small group work, problem-based learning, discussions, a film night and site visits to children’s charities.
Postgraduate Psychiatry Teaching
The postgraduate training is a four-year course of seminars and clinical training, leading to a Master of Medicine (M.Med) degree. Trainees spend two years in Malawi, supervised by members of the Department of Mental Health and sit Part One of their M.Med exams. They then continue their training in psychiatric subspecialties at the University of Cape Town, under the supervision of Dr Peter Milligan.
The first two postgraduate trainees to complete the programme have recently passed their final M.Med exams. They will soon begin to contribute to the undergraduate teaching programme at the College, as well as provide a clinical service to patients.
The e-learning project aims to build capacity and ensure a sustainable, mental health workforce. Online learning materials are currently being developed for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. They will also be available to clinical officers, psychiatric nurses and other mental health professionals. Undergraduate resources include interactive problem-based learning scenarios, power-point lectures with voice-overs and links to online information. Postgraduate materials are designed to support the postgraduate training, so that Malawi will be able to train its own mental health specialists in the future.
Enhancing Mental Health Training in the Districts of Malawi
Adopting a key recommendation of the WHO mhGAP programme, this three year long community-based project was a trainer-of-trainers scheme to strengthen the mental health skills and substance misuse expertise of Malawi’s primary health care workers. Operating in five Districts, the project trained more than four hundred clinicians working in primary care, helping to narrow the very wide gap between the services urgently needed in Malawi and those that were available. The project was funded by the Scottish Government. The project concluded in 2016.
Improving Clinical Standards and Teaching at Zomba Mental Hospital (image firstname.lastname@example.org)
This project arose from Dr Selena Gleadow Ware's work at Zomba Mental Hospital, while she was a SMMHEP- supported lecturer at the College of Medicine. She held regular case-discussions and taught non-medical staff as well as medical students, working with hospital staff to improve clinical standards. With nursing staff on the female wards, she particularly focused on developing a baby-friendly service for breast-feeding mothers. The project concluded in 2015.