The purpose of the comprehensive training is to help a non-specialist health care provider to recognise, detect and refer patients with mental health problems. The training and manual are tailored for use by non-specialist providers of health care working with individuals and communities in HIV burdened areas in the primary health care setting of South Africa.
The overall rationale of the training is to bring to the awareness of non-specialist health care providers that mental health concerns are all around us and that they may impact on us directly (ourselves) or indirectly (through those around us). Health care providers are taught that they need to find ways to recognise and express feelings, destigmatise mental illness and know how and where to access help.
The focus on self-care offers a unique experience to participants and differs from traditional training on mental health, in that it places importance of self-care on the health care provider and their relationship with others, including the patient. Integrating the “spirit of motivation interviewing” (Miller and Rollnick, 2013), training participants are taught to be a “guide on the side”. This involves embodying characteristics of being: empathic, compassionate, non-judgemental and collaborative in their approach to working with patients.