Edge Hill University is to a deliver a vital mental health training programme for nurses in Mysore, India.

The training will focus on improving mental health interventions for those who have attempted suicide and/or are at a vulnerable stage in their life, in one of the worst-affected regions of the country with the world’s highest suicide rate (World Health Organisation report, 2012).

There is an acute shortage of mental health trained professionals in Mysore and with 2000-2500 people being referred each year after suicide attempts to just two doctors, this is a major public health concern.

Alongside colleagues in the region, Edge Hill Faculty of Health and Social Care staff have secured funding from Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) to implement and deliver a mental health training programme for general hospital staff, and research the effectiveness of the interventions.

The partnership between Edge Hill’s Faculty of Health, Dr Mirali Krishna at CSI Holdsworth Memorial Hospital and Professor Rajendra at Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMCRI) was initially forged in 2012 and in early 2014 Edge Hill Senior Lecturers Paul Keenan and Steve Jones visited Mysore again to build upon scoping work conducted after THET granted initial start-up funding in 2012.

Steve Jones said: “Attempted suicide is illegal in India and mental health issues are heavily stigmatised, and we have found that while nurses are well-equipped to provide physical treatment and care for patients, they have limited knowledge of mental health needs. We hope to address the pressing need for the nurses to gain more knowledge and skills in this area.”

Paul Keenan and Steve Jones will return to India in 2015 and 2016 to train 100 staff across both hospital sites in completing mental health assessments and developing treatment plans for those who have attempted to take their lives. A further 40 staff will then be trained to become trainers themselves and cascade their knowledge throughout the hospitals.

Paul Keenan said: “We look forward to working with our clinical partners in Mysore, improving mental health interventions for those at a vulnerable stage in their life. The project aims to raise the profile of mental health care, raise care standards and reduce the stigma within the hospital sites. We anticipate that the benefits will eventually extend to other institutions and have a greater impact in the long term.”