An associate director at the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has spent two weeks in Gujarat, India, where he learnt about the culture and developed links with hospitals and health services.
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 health.
The Trust has already formed close links with Gujarat after 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 services and facilities last year.
On this recent visit Mike Young, who is based at St Luke’s Hospital, Huddersfield, and four other members of staff from the Trust built upon existing relationships with mental health professionals to enable them to make improvements to local mental health services.
During their two-week stay, the five mental health professionals from the Trust including a psychiatrist, two community practice nurse team leaders and the manager of the Milen day centre in Batley, visited various services and facilities for older people in the Indian state and spent time talking to staff and service users to improve mental health services for the community in North Kirklees and raise awareness of the importance of good mental health.
Speaking about his visit Mike Young said, “The twinning project is a two way process, it is a chance for us to develop links and learn more about each other’s approach to mental health. Many Gujaratis 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 the people we visited learnt a lot from us. For example, a new inpatient service in Gujarat is based on a model they saw at St. Luke’s Hospital in Huddersfield. Due to financial restrictions they are not as developed as ours, but learning about our community projects might help them find new ways of providing services in India.”
The team will now produce training information for staff who work alongside the Kirklees Gujarati community and help deliver training sessions for staff and others on mental health in Gujarat.
The Trust will also continue to develop links between the Trust, University of Huddersfield and Gujarat at a time when mental health services there are expanding. Exchange programmes, where nurses, psychiatrists and social workers from Gujarat could spend six months or so in the area on an exchange basis with our staff have also been suggested.