Name of the activity: Psychiatrists are for the people

Country/NMO: Poland (IFMSA-Poland)

Program: Mental Health

Contact information: [email protected]

Type of the activity: Education. Education on health issues for specific societal groups, either in the form of projects (set of tasks for a certain group over a fixed period of time), events (something notable that happens) or conferences (form meeting about ideas related to a particular topic, usually over several days).

General description:

Psychiatrists are for the people” is a peer education project, the main purpose of which is to increase the social awareness of the importance of mental health, reduce the stigma associated with both psychiatrist and psychologist services, improve the access to mental health support facilities, decrease the suicide rates among adolescents and build mental health resilience. The target group of our activity consists of adolescents enrolled in primary, secondary and high schools. 50% of mental disorders are known as early-onset, meaning they begin at a very young age.

Via various means of education, namely not only interactive games and discussions, but also a simple presentation of elementary facts we as medical students are able to approach our peers in a way suitable for them to face and understand all the nuances of mental health. Our main goal is to emphasize that mental and physical health are equally important and how closely interlinked they truly are.

Focus area:

Communities especially vulnerable to mental health

Problem statement:

Every year around 38% of the EU population suffer from at least one mental disorder. This corresponds to an estimated 164.7 million persons. Mood and anxiety disorders are the most widespread lifelong disorders.

The foundation of life-long mental health is laid in the early years. Up to 50% of mental disorders have their onset during adolescence. Mental health problems can be identified in between 10% and 20% of young people, with higher rates among the disadvantaged population group.

Target groups:

Youth

Beneficiaries:

Medical students, Youth

Objectives and indicators of success:

To limit the rates of attempted suicide in schools in 16 cities in Poland by 90% in one year. Ind: reports from the school directors within one year after educational activities.

2. To defeat the stigma associated with mental health disorders and psychiatrists. Ind: evaluation of the end-classes survey.

3. To raise awareness about mental health disorders and the effective ways of building mental resilience. Ind: evaluation of the end-classes survey.”

Methodology:

Peer education classes in primary schools and high schools using non-formal education tools, presentation, discussions, role-playing games. The medical students who are recruited to be a educator are following the training provided by experienced members who already carried out such lesson or by Local Project Coordinators/Local Public Health Officers. The schools are contacted using already established partnerships with other projects of peer-education spectrum. At the beginning of each lesson there is a questionnaire handed out to students, as well as at the end, using same questions and measuring progress in knowledge. There are also left blank spaces to give less structured feedback. The school representatives are contacted in a year after frequent lessons in order to evaluate if there was a change in overall problems associated with attempted suicide.

Plans for evaluation:

At the beginning and the end of each class we conduct a survey assessing the level of knowledge and attitude towards mental health disorders, psychiatrists and so on. Via analyzing and comparing the results obtained before and after the classes, we are able to evaluate what percentage of our peer education activity was successful and what impact it had for our target group, meaning to what extent our envisaged goals were achieved. Furthermore, we acquire reports containing information about the estimated numbers and rates of suicidal attempts, which are provided by the teachers and parents to the school representatives.