A testimony of WONCA’s Advocacy Programme in Primary Mental Health

In our previous WONCA News edition, Professor Christopher Dowrick, chair of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health wrote about advocacy efforts through a virtual educational programme to equip 12 motivated family doctors who wish to advance the integration of behavioural health care into routine primary care practice.

The following is the reflection and testimony of one of the participants.

Enrolling in the WONCA Primary Mental Health Advocacy Programme

I applied for this program with great enthusiasm since primary mental health care is an international priority, and there is a huge gap with the reality in my context.

The program is unique in terms of its distance delivery and adult learning method, in which we must conduct a real-time project. The project design stimulated my leading skills and the capacity to organise a team. It also allowed networking with people from my locality and implementing the teaching materials in real life. 

We started the program in two batches due to timezones issues. My teammates are doctors from Africa, Spain, and Srilanka. It is very encouraging to know fellow doctors from different countries and backgrounds, yet with the same vision. The collegiality is invaluable and one of the best parts of this programme, preserved even after the formal program ended. 

We learned from the success stories and barriers shared by others. 
Undoubtedly, the timing and context of the pandemic are challenging, however, I find mentors, faculties, and participants to be very supportive and encouraging me to flourish throughout the program. 

Another admirable feature is the mid-program focus-group discussion, led by an experienced psychologist in order to evaluate our experience. Our feedback was contemplated in a very rapid manner. 

This process also serves as a positive example of our advocacy and professional learning. I feel better equipped in advocacy for mental health in primary care. Overall the programme is highly recommended, and I would definitely suggest this to my colleagues.


WONCA Working Party: Mental Health