Health care providers from the English-speaking Caribbean participated in a virtual course on Stigma reduction

One hundred and seven primary health care providers from sixteen English speaking countries from the sub-region of the Caribbean (Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Monserrat, Trinidad & Tobago,  Turks & Caicos, Suriname, Saint Kitts & Nevis, and Saint Lucia), enrolled in the Region’s first virtual course on stigma reduction. The sixteen-week virtual training, organized by the Pan American Health Organization, Mental Health and Substance Use Unit, in collaboration with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), aims to reduce stigma within the healthcare setting.

A second cohort of the “Understanding Stigma and Strengthening Cognitive Behavioral Interpersonal Skills” virtual course will be hosted for primary health care providers from the sub-region of the Caribbean. The training is scheduled to run from 15 August to 30 November 2022. Call for applications to participate in it is now open in the Virtual Campus of Public Health at Understanding Stigma and Cognitive Behavioural Interpersonal Skills - 2022The deadline for the submission of applications is 25 July 2022

The virtual course “Understanding Stigma (US) and Strengthening Cognitive Behavioral Interpersonal Skills (CBIS),” offered through the PAHO Virtual Campus for Public Health, seamlessly combines two evidence-based stigma-reduction programs into one course. It introduces participants to an organized approach to developing an action plan to address stigma within the healthcare setting via user-friendly interventions tailored to mental health service users’ specific needs.

The course was delivered in two phases. Phase one, a pilot phase, delivered between 7  July to  9  August 2021. This phase allowed for the adaptation of the course’s material to the Caribbean context and the finetuning of the overall structure of training prior to the main sessions’ launch. The benefit of this phase was the emergence of champions who would later become tutors for the main course.

The main course, delivered from 16 August to 30 November 2021, comprised of seven synchronous and asynchronous modules, held weekly, for a total of 160 academic hours. At the conclusion of the 2021 delivery of the main training, 77% of the enrolled individuals were successfully certified in the course. These participants were reevaluated on knowledge gained via the course’s post-assessment survey. The findings for this evaluation showed statistically significant improvements in participants:

  • Overall confidence in the quality of mental healthcare provided to patients and reduction in implicit bias (stigma), which positively correlates with overall confidence in patients' quality of care.
  • Knowledge of the use of the non-pharmacological interventions presented in the course when treating depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions.
  • Confidence in assessing clients’ problems & strengths, as well as engaging clients in a range of mental healthcare interventions.

In addition to evaluating the knowledge gained post training, the assessment survey also provided a medium for participants to provide feedback on the course. A key comment captured from the anonymous post survey is presented here:

“The fact that it is so applicable and handy. The tools are an invaluable resource “For healthcare providers, using the tools is a good way to develop confidence in administering the same. It helps us with our provisional diagnosis and to evaluate patient response to treatment. It organizes our evaluation of symptoms for our patients. The tools are simple to use and interpret.”

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