Severe Psychiatric Disorders in Indigenous Populations in Guatemala Project - PAHO Foundation
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Severe Psychiatric Disorders in Indigenous Populations in Guatemala Project

In indigenous populations, severe psychiatric disorders often go untreated. To help provide mental health services to an indigenous population in Guatemala, PAHEF provided funding to a project based in Santiago Atitlan.

sever p disordersPhoto courtesy of Dalila Esquina and Alejandro Paiz

Areas of Focus

Prior research identified 31 people with severe non-affective psychosis in the community. This current project aimed to ensure appropriate treatment and close monitoring of these cases while taking into account ethnic and cultural factors.

By working with the Guatemalan Ministry of Health and a principle investigator from Brown University, a four-step action plan was created:

1.Clinical care: A psychiatrist offered therapeutic treatment for 14 known cases as well as discovered new cases and designed individual plans for psycho-social rehabilitation for patients suffering from psychosis. Upon request, the psychiatrist visited a local hospital and provided intervention consultations, evaluations, and monitoring.

2.Mental health promotion & education: People from the community who speak Tzutujil acted as facilitators by promoting lectures and discussions in community settings. To further promote mental health, they also visited patients’ homes and local schools. Additionally, new cases were identified.

3.Training: Sixty teachers from 15 schools were trained to address mental health issues in children.

4.Coordination and creation of the Community Mental Health Network: The group participated in a “community health network”, where a mental health group was conformed, promoting multisectorial work. A network was created to bring together different organizations working at the community level. The network includes Save the Children, Friendly Spaces, the Attorney’s Office of Human Rights, traditional leaders, and community institutions among others.

Extraordinary Strides

This project made formidable progress in providing mental health resources to indigenous people. One of the most remarkable accomplishments was the creation of a mental health team that combines clinical care with traditional community-based action. This combination provides promotion-prevention services, care, and rehabilitation.

The project was so successful that it has continued beyond the initial timeline with funding from the Guatemalan government and technical assistance from PAHO/WHO.

 

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Media Contact:
Elly Brtva, MPH, President & CEO, a.i.
ebrtva@pahofoundation.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 30, 2014) – PAHO Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Simone Acha as Chair of the Board of Directors.  PAHO Foundation, formerly known as PAHEF (Pan American Health and Education Foundation), works as the philanthropic arm of the Pan American Health Organization to mobilize resources and advocate the strategic agenda of PAHO.  The Foundation welcomes Acha to this role and eagerly anticipates the leadership she will bring to achieving PAHO Foundation’s mission.  In addition to her service on the Executive Committee, she participates on the Marketing and Communications Committee and is an inaugural member of the PAHO Foundation Salud Society.

Acha recently retired as the Vice President of Enterprise Technology Solutions at Electronic Computing Services (ECS) Federal, Inc. to pursue her next career focused on social change.  She is actively engaged in programs dedicated to increasing the number of women and minorities pursuing careers in the...