AAMH partners with China to deliver crucial mental health training

Asia Australia Mental Health and two of China’s leading medical colleges have signed agreements to work towards innovative models for collaboration in training the next generation of Chinese psychiatrists and mental health experts.

Asia Australia Mental Health (AAMH) is a partnership between Asialink, the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychiatry, and St Vincent’s Mental Health.

The Memorandum of Understanding signings are in response to China’s new national mental health priorities, announced in June 2015.

AAMH has become the key international partner in China’s national mental health reform program, which involves 250 cities, 1800 districts, and covers a population of 940 million.

The first MoU, signed with Peking Union Medical College, heralds a new collaboration to create a University of Melbourne Masters degree in Mental Health Sciences.

The degree will be tailored to a Chinese audience including government officials, general practitioners, allied health workers and non-government organisations. It is the University’s first award-bearing degree delivered entirely in Chinese.

The second MoU, signed with the PKU Institute of Mental Health and PKU Healthcare, will see the development of a national training program for mental health professionals who want to upgrade their qualifications to become clinical psychiatrists.

Head of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, Professor Ian Everall, says a blended online and face-to-face Master of Mental Health Science taught in Mandarin will break new ground for the University of Melbourne.

“We are also working with our esteemed colleagues at Peking University Institute of Mental Health and Peking University Healthcare to provide an online advanced psychiatry training program to assist the 20,000 new trainee psychiatrists to prepare for their professional examinations in China and assist in teaching high quality care for patients with mental illness,” Professor Everall said.

Asialink CEO Jenny McGregor described the project as a ‘huge undertaking’ based on many years of developing trusted partnerships between China and Australia.

“Asialink brings a deep understanding of Chinese culture and cultural difference, which will be critical in developing appropriate courses for Chinese mental health professionals,” she said.  

“We’re very pleased to have this opportunity and it’s credit to the long term relationships and the trust that has developed between the partners.”

The State Council of China mental health work plan aims to treat 80 per cent of people with severe mental illness and double the number of doctors with mental health training to 40,000 by 2020. However, there is currently a severe shortage of professionally trained staff to deliver adequate mental health services.

This article first appeared in MUSSE, Melbourne University Staff & Student News, on 16 April 2016.

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Renuka Rajadurai

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