#studyGMH: The Yale Global Mental Health Program

Student Month Blog Series: Yale Global Mental Health Program

Carla Marienfeld, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and the Director of the Yale Psychiatry Residency Global Mental Health Program

The Yale Global Mental Health Program (GMHP) is an exciting option for Yale psychiatry residents/fellows and the larger academic community. We strive to provide mentored, long term collaborations between our trainees and partners abroad that do not focus on time limited interactions, but for overall career development that is mutually beneficial. Focus on scholarly projects provides opportunities for residents to learn about research ethics in international settings, to observe clinical work and the healthcare system without being responsible for patient care, to utilize pre-existing structures for supervision and mentorship, and to participate in reciprocal opportunities for residents from international sites to come to the US to participate in research training. The goal is to produce psychiatrists with long term career participation in global mental health (GMH) projects and issues, whether they practice at home or abroad.

Psychiatry residents/fellows must complete a portfolio of experiences in order to receive recognition for having completed the GMHP that includes mentorship, a GMH scholarly project (often conducted abroad), the GMH elective, relevant local clinical electives (with underserved populations of different backgrounds), and a reflection piece about their experience. For the larger Yale community, the major component of the Global Mental Health Program is the Global Mental Health Elective that meets twice per month and consists of multi-disciplinary presentations on global mental health projects or issues, including journal club presentations by residents/fellows with faculty discussion and resident/fellow scholarly work. The elective is conducted in an informal setting geared for trainees at all levels, providing program participants opportunities to become familiar with colleagues with similar professional interests and to learn about the variety of global mental health activities within the department and elsewhere. It is designed to promote networking, idea sharing, and information about possible future projects. The Yale Global Mental Health Program has also promoted education and experiential preparation prior to experiences abroad and lectures and symposium to increase knowledge of GMH and better prepare residents for experiences that might be encountered abroad, including ethical considerations.

"We strive to provide mentored, long term collaborations between our trainees and partners abroad that ... [focus on] overall career development that is mutually beneficial"

Development of a GMHP significantly impacted the residency program and department. Before development of the GMHP, there were few didactic sessions in the residency related to GMH. While a pilot program for international experiences existed, only one resident had completed one. Since the implementation of the GMHP there were significant increases in the number of core didactic sessions devoted to GMH and the elective was developed which added 60 hours of didactics per year. The funding sources for resident international experiences and scholarly projects expanded since the development of the GMHP and now include R25 research education training grants, hospital, non-profit organization, non-governmental organization, departmental, professional organization fellowship, and foreign government support. Given the variety of funding sources, residents were required to complete a scholarly project appropriate to the experience and the requirements of the funding source. The presence of the GMHP also significantly affected recruitment to the residency.

All of this, however, is for the benefit of our trainees and their international partners. Residents have conducted projects such as looking at child abuse in China to development of depression screening and treatment protocols in Chiapas, Mexico to treating substance dependence in former child soldiers in Sierra Leone. They have produced international guidelines, published manuscripts, book chapters, presentations, and other work contributing to the field. Residents and fellows have done work in Nigeria, Thailand, Jordan, Turkey, Nepal, India, Singapore, the Dominican Republic, and other countries. A few of our current participants have agreed to share a blog on their experiences for this blog series. 


Read blogs from current and past trainees from Yale, as they discuss their experiences of the programme.

Learn More

Read more about the Yale Global Mental Health Program, and about the types of international electives for Yale and visiting students offered by the Office of International Medical Student Education (OIMSE). See other recent publications regarding OIMSE. 


Training, education and capacity building
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