With the participation of 14 professionals from Colombia, Honduras and Panama (2 country managers, 4 experts and 8 participants), this mental health Virtual Clinic pilot experience was carried out in PAHO/WHO Virtual Campus for Public Health, between October 30, 2017 and April 15, 2018. The project was promoted by PAHO/WHO Mental Health and Substance Use Unit in answer to the need to incorporate new instruments and practices to support the daily work of already trained primary care professionals that treat people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders, based on the mhGAP strategy.
The objective pursued by this experience was "To strengthen the capacity of general practitioners, nursing professionals and other primary health care professionals for the identification, diagnosis, approach and treatment of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders included in the eight mhGAP priority conditions, through the Virtual Clinic as a tool to support the supervision of these activities by mental health and neurology specialists, thus improving referral and counter-referral processes.”
Participants sent a total of 18 clinical cases for supervision by the experts and participated in five WEBEX clinical cases discussion sessions. In these sessions, the professional who had submitted the clinical case presented it and was then followed by the supervisor's assessment. A space for the participation of all professionals attending the sessions was opened after the interventions. Although the experience as a pilot project was limited in terms of coverage, it is expected to be implemented in a more generalized way and serve as a practical and useful tool to support non-specialist health providers committed to mental health care.
The experience was coordinated by Víctor Aparicio with the support of Carmen Martínez, Subregional Advisor on Mental Health for Mexico and Central America, and Dévora Kestel, PAHO/WHO Mental Health and Substance Use Unit Chief.