This application will establish the 'Improving Mental Health Education and Research Capacity in Zimbabwe (IMHERZ) program at University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences (UZ-CHS). In Africa, mental disorders are in the top five causes of disease burden and their relative importance will grow as demographic transition advances. There is growing evidence from within low income countries that improving mental health reduces disability, poverty and social exclusion and improves quality of life and physical health Currently UZ-CHS Department of Psychiatry is severely compromised with depleted trainers, barely any psychiatric teaching, and collapse of research. Programs to improve mental health expertise, education, healthcare and research capacity among UZ-CHS faculty and students are urgently needed. The IMHERZ consortium is a newly formed partnership of faculty at UZ-CHS with faculty from Harvard University, University of Cape Town, Institute of Psychiatry (London), University of Bristol, University College London, who have a long history of international mental health and community-based research and capacity building expertise. IMHERZ aims are to: 1. Increase mental health expertise and retention of UZ-CHS psychiatry faculty 2. Strengthen the implementation and sustainability of undergraduate mental health education 3. Strengthen mental health research capacity at UZ-CHS across disciplines, and : 4. Monitor the impact of IMHERZ on mental health education, research and practice at UZ-CHS. The consortium will make use of innovative approaches including establishing IMHERZ Mentored Training Fellowships for post-graduates;provision of a competency-based curriculum in mental health, including team-based learning, for undergraduates;mentored Research Fellowships, and up to date methods of educational evaluation. Guiding principles of IMHERX include strengthening of south-south collaboration, mentoring and teaching strongly supported by Universities in the US (Harvard) and the UK (Institute of Psychiatry, University of Bristol and University College London), and that the role of IMHERZ team shifts from implementation to advisory over the duration of the grant leaving a sustainable and relevant innovative medical education curriculum with a strong emphasis on community-based research and interventions coupled with effective long-term initiatives to improve retention of graduates and faculty in psychiatry.
Mental disorders cause considerable suffering, disability and social exclusion in Africa, and are poorly recognized. Treatment not only improves quality of life and functioning, but can even improve physical health as well. Through delivering a program of teaching, curriculum revision and research capacity- building, the proposed program aims to increase expertise, knowledge and research capacity in mental health at the University of Zimbabwe to address the vital public health goals of improving mental health care in Africa.
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