I returned to Salavan and started in on the next piece of work. While we've been upgrading medical and management skills of medical staff and administrators, everyone's been asking about mental health. There are few mental health services in Laos - and everyone confuses the term 'mental health' with 'mental illness.' So I've been teaching very general courses on psychosocial issues and culture, and how people can talk with people and offer constructive help. This course is not designed to create psychologists but to spark interest and support people's natural abilities in offering support.
Yesterday was the first day and everyone was really enthusiastic. I had them break into small groups to discuss the questions, "What is health?" "What is mental health?" The assignment at home - observe a member of the family who falls into four main age groups and gets some ideas of level of development.
Today, they all had ideas on developmental levels. I added a little bit about Erikson's psychosocial stages and we discussed the challenges for each age group. I gave them a few case studies and they broke into groups again to discuss them. Each study had a trauma issue - what happens to the person if the trauma happens at this age level. And how can we help?
Much discussion and many questions.