Sunday, March 8, 2015

Our first week (March 1-5)

What a whirlwind! Rita and I arrived on Saturday night (Feb 28th) and spent Sunday acclimating to the 8-hour time difference, finding the grocery store, and checking out the hotel/apartment compound. It’s been 4 days, and our jetlag is pretty much gone, but we still get a little nappy in the afternoon, and I’ve been struggling to stay asleep at night. It could be related to the Malarone (anti-malarials), as I’ve been suffering the advertised ‘strange, vivid dreams’.
On Monday we got right to work and visited the Africa Mental Health Foundation headquarters and met their huge and hardworking research team. They have been most welcoming, and we couldn’t be happier to be collaborating with them. We’re still waiting for our IMPACT ethics to come through, so we spent the week on field trips to Machakos, a rural county a couple hours from Nairobi where much of their rural research takes place. Visiting the schools in Machakos has allowed us to start making connections with schools and staff, so that we can begin recruitment when we’re ready. 

Daniel providing psycho-education on mental illness and stigma
We have been shadowing the Daniel and the AMHF research staff, who are conducting the Kenya Integrated Intervention Model for Dialogue and Screening to Promote Children’s Mental Wellbeing (KIDS) Project. The children, families, and teachers received psycho-education about mental illness and reducing stigma in addition to training for peer support and specialized care through local services. We spent a couple days in the field this week helping to collect the post-intervention data to track any changes in the children’s behaviour and mental health.

Helping out with the KIDS project has allowed us to network with various rural school principals, and make connections for recruitment for the IMPACT study. The principals have been so welcoming, and have given us tours of the schools, spoken proudly about the high success rate of their children in national exams, and let us spend time with the children once the study data was collected. We’re learning a tremendous amount about perceptions of mental health and illness and treatment. Thank you to the Africa Mental Health Foundation for hosting us and sharing your knowledge and support. I am so lucky.

Twitter: @IMPACTMcMaster


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