Teaching Global Mental Health and More at CV

Ray Mendez and Maura w:Psychology students

Drs. Ray and Maura Mendez (far right) meeting with psychology students at Clinica Verde.

Recently, Clinica Verde welcomed two wonderful volunteers to share their skills and leadership with our community – Dr. Ray Mendez And Dr. Maura Mendez. Ray works at Northwestern University-Erie Family Health Center and Maura is currently working at MacNeal Family Medicine Residency. Below, a snapshot of their experience and impressions.

By Dr. Ray Mendez

Having heard and read about the level of medical care delivered to Boaqueño communities through conversations and readings, Maura and I were genuinely excited to have a first hand look at Clínica Verde’s (CV) impact on its target communities. We expected that CV would set itself apart from all other clinics and health establishments in Nicaragua through its community health education programming. During our time with CV, we were elated to find a clinic that not only did well at health education programming, but also prioritized organization, displayed passion and humility in everything they do, and delivered comprehensive health care to their local communities. Components of the care we were fortunate to experience included the teen counselor program; community health visits, and continued medical education.

The community of Boaco warmly received both Maura and I. From the taxi drivers, to the random community members we encountered in the rural villages, Maura and I could sense the genuine, kind-hearted, peaceful way of life lived by Boaqueños.

Teen Program

Through the teen counselor program, we were able to appreciate the precious work the teen leaders were accomplishing in areas of preventive medicine, education and community engagement. During our time we augmented their training with team building activities and workshops on peer mental health counseling. The work being accomplished by the teen counselors is inspiring and vital to the future of their communities’ health.

Staff

One of the most refreshing components of the clinic was the energy and natural engagement the clinic staff displayed daily. Delivering medical care with such a dynamic, culturally appropriate team was telling of the clinic’s overarching goals. They were especially receptive of the meditation workshop we provided! We are very appreciative of all the support and kindness offered by this staff!

Community Visits

Visiting multiple communities and having the opportunity to practice medicine alongside a Nicaraguan born, raised and trained physician was eye-opening. Hearing about the intricacies of practicing patient-centered care inspired us to dig deeper into the “normas” provided by the government. Probably most surprising to us was the number of mental health complaints we encountered in the community – as aspect we hope to continue working with in the coming months.

Future

As with all ventures, even those as successful as CV, there is always room for improvement. CV humbly identified branches of its care that still require such development. We had the pleasure of contributing to one of those branches, mental health care.  CV staff openly welcomed the opportunity to learn about global mental health, depression, and meditation through interactive didactics. With the clinic’s help, we were able to introduce a variety of topics to numerous nursing students, fifteen psychology students, and the entire CV staff. Topics included the intricacies of global mental health, global health inequalities, and the evidence and utility of transcendental meditation. We hope to continue working with CV as we move forward in our careers. As such, we are hoping to collaborate with CV in completing a mental health needs assessment that will direct the goals and objectives for a telemental health program for clinic staff and patients.

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