Introducing different levels of training for different service layers is relatively new in child mental health anyway. When available, these training levels are separate or, at best, parallel. Sometimes having no training precedent paradoxically eases innovation.
All that had been missing was a team to operate on the interface, which is what the Children on the Edge team did, with their primary focus on child protection in disadvantaged communities, and gradually expanding in therapeutic areas. In that respect, the first child trauma workshop was not that different to previous variations.
It became particularly exciting at the end of that workshop when we reflected what would be relevant – and crucially, how – for the community child protection volunteers. When they came for the second child trauma workshop, they expressed their own expectations and fears, but we went through the day seamlessly. Using their own material helped, and me taking the back seat for the COTE leads to facilitate was even more gratifying.
The next challenge is to build on both levels without losing their integration.
The potential of the refugee graduates was exciting to see at the workshop two months ago. But this was in sharp contrast with the loving conditions, as we had to find money for water and basic materials.
Still, since then they have kept their word to develop school holidays activities for the children in the large refugee settlement, with the aim of extending to school and community awareness in the future, and to strengthen the cultural integration of several groups.
Our admiration goes to them, shame to hear they did not have money for even drinks for the children…
The first good sign was hearing about the large number of community volunteers at this network of rural health centres and satellite clinics. The second and real test was hearing from the mothers on their perceived benefits through education and prevention, and how they would advise future mothers.
When I saw evidence of including not insensitive topics such as family planning and particularly gender-based violence, I was not surprised. If trust between the community and services is built over a number of years, with community leads and volunteers acting as bridges, there are no taboos to avoid. Mental health should come easy next!
The three young children in the waiting area also passed the secure attachment test – none of them would come to me!