The prevalence of mental disorders is up to 25%, which indicates their extreme prevalence. The most frequent ones include anxious disorders, comprising 21% of the population, and depressive disorders, comprising 11% of the population. These data indicate that physicians of any specialty invariably encounter people suffering from mental disorders in their practice, and particularly general practitioners. Despite the high prevalence, primary care physicians often lack the knowledge and skills to treat such patients.

From November 8 to November 12, the WHO Office in Belarus in cooperation with the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus hosted training workshop “Training of general practitioners in the diagnosis and treatment of common mental disorders using the WHO mhGAP guidelines” in order to fill current gaps and train better specialists in future.

The event was attended by tutors from the Departments of General Medical Practice and the Departments of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology from all medical universities of Belarus, as well as specialists from the Russian Scientific Centre for Mental Health and BelMAPO.

Head of the General Medical Practice Department, Candidate of Medical Sciences, Associate Professor Vadim Sushinsky, Assistant Professor, Candidate of Medical Sciences, Anatoly Bliznyuk, Assistant Professor, Candidate of Medical Sciences, Assistant Professor Vladimir Pikirenya attended the training on behalf of Belarusian State Medical University.

The event covered issues related to depression, suicidal behaviour and dementia. During the training, role-playing games were conducted and video counselling situations within the WHO mhGAP approach were analysed.

This is the first of the planned trainings for tutors aimed at improving diagnosis and management of mental disorders and conditions at the primary health care level. Next year, it is planned to continue this work and learn about other aspects of integrating mental health care into primary health care system in Belarus.

The event took place in accordance with the Plan of Cooperation between the Ministry of Health of Belarus and the WHO Regional Office in Europe for 2020-2021 within the framework of the program area component “Mental health counselling and training for teachers on integration of mental health into the primary health care for early identification of patients with depression, dementia, as well as suicide prevention”.

Author: Vladimir Pikirenya, Associate Professor, the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, BSMU, photos provided by the author
Translation: Tatiana Malkovich

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