Mental Health Training-cum-workshop on “Understanding and Responding to Mental Illnesses”

A Two-Day Mental Health Training-cum-workshop on “Understanding and Responding to Mental Illnesses” was organized on 12th and 13th February 2022 at Men-Tsee-Khang Sowa-Rigpa College, Bengaluru by Mental Health Desk of Department of Health (DoH), CTA in collaboration with Mental Health Department of Men-Tsee-Khang (Sowa-Rigpa). This workshop was mainly organized for Men-Tsee-Khang South-Zone doctors.

For an auspicious beginning, the organizers requested Dr. Ravindra Agrawal (Psychiatrist) and Ms. Tanushri Sharma (Psychologist), our trainers from Goa based Sangath organization, to light the butter lamp in front of the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is the champion of peace and mental health while the participants recited prayers. Dr. Tenzin Choying, HoD, Men-Tsee-Khang Mental Health greeted all gathered in the hall with a welcome speech, introduced the main objective of the workshop and thanked the DoH for proposing this collaboration. Mrs.Pema Youdon, Deputy Secretary, DoH highlighted the significance of this workshop and emphasized on our common effort to empower mental health.

The training/workshop began with ice-breaking activities and witnessed interactive sessions with the participants sharing their clinical experiences, the challenges they face in their field to introducing Tibetan Medicine perspective on mental health to the trainers. This workshop was attended by fifteen doctors from different branch clinics and two intern-doctors. The event also had two lecturers & consultants from Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education and a telepsychiatry coordinator of DoH as attendees. The topics covered were early identification of mental disorders, overview of available biological and psychosocial intervention, steps for early intervention, risk assessment and management, when and how to refer, basic counseling skill and art of questioning. The training/workshop was very well received and as said by our trainers, it was a learning experience for both the trainers and the participants.

As the programme schedule was tight, the trainers and participants were taken for a campus tour during lunch break to Men-Tsee-Khang College Museum, Library, OPD and IPD—led by Dr.Passang Wangdu, Principal of the College. Likewise, the same night after dinner, trainers were introduced to Tibetan culture and invited for a Tibetan circle dance.

The closing session started with feedbacks from two doctors, followed by presentation of Felicitation certificate to the trainers by Mrs. Pema Youdon, and Souvenir by Dr. Tenzin Choying. The certificate of participation was distributed to the participants by Dr. Ravindra Agrawal. Dr. Agrawal shared his experience in training our participants and thanked them for their active participation. He spoke about a counseling training programme which was conducted (for Tibetan nurses) in person and the same type of sessions can also be accessed through an application (app) which has pre-recorded lectures. He also shared about his interest in future collaborations and would discuss the same with his organization. Ms. Tsering Yangdol, Program coordinator, delivered the vote of thanks speech, in which she thanked the trainers and participants for joining this offline workshop despite all the travel difficulties amidst this pandemic. She also thanked Men-Tsee-Khang team for arranging all the logistic, even when there was lack of enough manpower. In line with this, Dr. Tenzin Choying presented a small token of gratitude to DoH team for this collaboration. She also thanked her team for their dedication and cooperation, and most importantly expressed her sincere gratitude to Mr. Tashi Tsering Puri, Director of Men-Tsee-Khang (Sowa-Rigpa) for his guidance throughout all the undertakings of the department, and without whose support, this event would not have been possible.