I am feeling a little disorientated. No, its not jet lag. A week into our Summer sojourn in France there is more than enough sunshine to ensure sleep, Vitamin D and writing are all going well. Next week we go to Scotland where it may of course be a totally different story. No, its that I am writing a short story set in New York, revising a manuscript set in Melbourne, trying to speak French and the flyer pops up in my email for the talk I am giving to support the Mental Health Foundation of Ghana.
Let’s get a few things clear. I haven’t been to Ghana. My girlfriend’s daughter went there and nearly returned with a Ghanian boyfriend (who still rings my friend, lamenting that the girl left him for someone from the Czech republic, who I have to say, she is engaged to), and I had a long conversation with someone about the high level of female circumcision there, citing a session at the International Women’s Mental Health conference I had attended, until I checked the program and realized the speaker had been talking about Nigeria. So I have a lot to learn.
But when an old friend-Psych nurse (who is from Ghana) approached me to help support them, and told me that until recently there had been no Mental Health services to speak of (chaining people to trees and beating the devil out of them does not count), I felt compelled to galvanize myself into action. Having recently read Shrinks and been reminded how far we have come from the days of Bedlam, it is chastening to learn that not everywhere in the world has traveled as far or fast. Women’s Mental Health in the third world-or rather ill health-has a direct link from poor education through maternity care to poor outcomes. Improve female education and there are smaller families, higher immunization rates and higher survival rates. Women’s Health equals better life quality for all, and the least I can do is offer my services. So come October, I am getting myself to Ghana to run two workshops-one on identification and management of perinatal mental illness and the other on Intervening in Perinatal Mental Illness to Improve Child Outcomes.
So if you are in Ghana come…or in Melbourne, come to the African dinner at the Northcote Townhall on July 26th which is a fundraiser for the Mental Health Foundation of Ghana and hear me talk on Psychiatry in Fiction.
(You can book here)