9.4.2  Mental healthcare and the Health Extension Service

As a key member of the Health Extension Service, you have several important roles to play in the primary healthcare system (the system operating at local level). These are summarised in Box 9.4.

Box 9.4  The roles of Health Extension Practitioners in mental healthcare

  • Improving detection of mental illness by identifying people who are affected in your community
  • Referring people with possible mental illness to the nearest health facility for further assessment and treatment
  • Supporting people with mental illness and their families in the community
  • Encouraging people to attend follow-up appointments and to keep taking their medication
  • Educating patients, their families and the wider community
  • Reducing stigma, discrimination and abuse against people with mental illness.

You will learn more about your role in relation to specific mental illnesses in later study sessions.

At the health centre level, nurses and health officers will decide whether the person with mental illness needs to be referred for more specialist assessment, e.g. at the psychiatric nurse unit, or even for in-patient care, e.g. at the regional psychiatric unit.

Finally, we would like you to complete Activity 9.2.

Activity 9.2  Mental healthcare in your area

So that you can advise people with mental illness, it is important to know about mental healthcare in your area. Find out what mental healthcare is available in your nearest health centre. Where is the nearest psychiatric nurse unit? Is there a regional in-patient unit? Outside the health system, where do people with mental illness look for help in your area?

Write your answers in your Study Diary and discuss them with your Tutor at the next Study Support Meeting.

In the next study session in this Module, you will learn about assessing the person with mental illness.

9.4  Structure of the Ethiopian mental healthcare system

Summary of Study Session 9