Ghana

New Department of Psychiatry program will improve treatment for children and elders with mental illnesses in rural Ghana

The University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry was awarded a Global REACH Partnership Development Grant in April 2017 to build workforce capacity and improve treatment for children and elders with mental illnesses in rural Ghana. Michelle Riba, M.D., professor of psychiatry, and Gregory Dalack, M.D., chair of the U-M Department of Psychiatry are leading this effort.

This global psychiatric engagement project is titled, “Multi-Generational Mental Health Curriculum: An Authentic Global Academic Engagement to Build Workforce Capacity and Improve Treatment for Children and Elders with Mental Illness in Rural Ghana.” The partnership includes the U-M unit, the Department of Psychiatry at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana, and the Department of Psychiatry University of Ghana Medical School in Accra, Ghana.

The first ‘listening tour’ and teaching visit will occur in November. Child fellows Heidi Burns, M.D. and Nakita Natala, M.D. will present lectures on child psychiatry topics to medical students and residents over several weeks. Drs. Dalack and Riba will join them at separate times to meet with psychiatry and hospital leadership to discuss the psychiatric mental health curriculum and future plans. These include:

  1. An exchange program where U-M residents/faculty teach and learn at psychiatric institutions in Ghana and Ghanaian residents/faculty teach and learn at U-M;
  2. Lectures in in child and adolescent psychiatry;
  3. Evidence-based diagnosis and treatments in collaboration with Bruno Giordani, Ph.D., and colleagues in the neuropsychology program;
  4. Live streaming of U-M Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds to University of Ghana;
  5. Expanding and leveraging tele-medicine, tele-psychiatry, and mobile health access for delivery of safe, quality, and evidence-based mental health care.

“We are so pleased to have the opportunity to work with our Ghanaian colleagues, helping them improve their workforce capacity and advance treatment for children and elders with mental illnesses in rural Ghana,” said Gregory Dalack, M.D.

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“The U-M Department of Psychiatry will greatly benefit from this collaboration,” said Michelle Riba, M.D., who is also an associate director of the U-M Comprehensive Depression Center, and director of the PsychOncology Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. “It is our hope that after our initial meetings, the program will grow and we will be able to offer our trainees an invaluable global educational experience and learn from our Ghanaian colleagues.”

Together this international partnership intends to support the training of Ghanaian medical residents and fellows in child and geriatric psychiatry and to provide a global mental health experience for U-M residents and fellows who strive to become leaders in underserved and under-resourced regions of the world.

Drs. Dalack and Riba note the important and transformative leadership in this area from other colleagues at University of Michigan who have done work in Ghana. This includes, Timothy R.B. Johnson, M.D., chair of the Department of Ob/Gyn; Philip Zazove, M.D., chair of the Department of Family Medicine; Katherine Gold, M.D., assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine; and Joseph C. Kolars, M.D., senior associate dean for education and global initiatives, who have all provided mentorship to the Department of Psychiatry.