Mental health professionals from Gujarat in India have visited NHS mental health services in Wakefield as part of a mutual learning partnership with South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust.
The Trust, which provides mental health and learning disability services to people across Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, serves a high proportion of local people who originate from South Asia. The visit helped Trust staff to learn more about South Asian culture and the ways it can affect mental ill health.
The Indian visitors also learned from the Trust, to help them make improvements to mental health services back in Gujarat.
During their two-week stay, the Gujarati health professionals, including a psychiatric social worker, a psychiatric nurse and four doctors with clinical, research and practice expertise in mental health, visited various Trust services and facilities in Wakefield, as well as Calderdale and Kirklees, and spent time talking to staff, service users and Gujarati people across all three districts.
Trust staff were also able to attend special presentations given by the visitors to gain an insight into Indian people and mental health.
The visiting group’s team leader, Dr Ajay Chauhan, who is a consultant psychiatrist in Gujarat said, "It has been good to learn about such a broad range of services here in Wakefield. I have been impressed with how well developed services are here and how they are tailored according to individual need, rather than standardised across the board."
Dr Aruna S. Khasgiwala, who is Dean of the faculty of social work at the University of Baroda added, "Our time here has been valuable to us and very informative. We have been given an insight into how the Trust works out in the community to help people with mental health problems and this is something we can learn from."
The Trust’s professional lead for social care, Mike Young set up the exchange after visiting Gujarat. He said, "The twinning project is a two way process. It’s a chance for us to develop links and learn more about each other’s approach to mental health."
He added, "Many Gujarati’s live in the area served by the Trust and if staff can develop a deeper understanding of the needs of the community, we will inevitably improve our services to them. At the same time, our visitors have been able to learn from us. For example, their services are not as developed as ours due to financial restrictions, but learning about our community projects and fundraising events might help them find new ways of providing services back in India."