Kashmir docs find no stigma attached to mental illness in UK


SRINAGAR: A group of trainee doctors from Kashmir Valley visiting UK have spent time with mental health care staff in Lincolnshire and said they were impressed with the services compared to how they were back home.

The five trainees from Valley spent two weeks visiting hospital inpatient wards and community mental health teams in the county.

They said there was still a great deal of stigma attached to mental illness back home in Kashmir but were greatly impressed by the care provided to such patients in the UK.

The international students were hosted by Trust staff as part of the World Health Organisation’s mental health Global Action Programme (mhGAP), in agreement between the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ and the government of Jammu in Kashmir.

The trip was organised thanks to Trust locum psychiatrist Dr Sayed Aqeel Hussain, who originates from Kashmir, along with LPFT medical director Dr Sue Elcock.

As part of a busy two-week schedule, the students immersed themselves in LPFT services, spending their first week with dementia, drug and alcohol, CAMHS and community mental health teams in Grantham, before visiting our acute hospital inpatient and rehabilitation units at the PHC and Discovery House in Lincoln. 

Trainee Dr Suhail Saifullah said that back in India, mental illness still has a great deal of stigma attached to it, but he was most impressed by the standard of community care offered by the Trust.

“Things are very different over here, there are far more health professionals involved in people’s care, whereas back home people mostly just see a doctor,” he said.  

“I was most impressed with the empathy shown to patients and the amount of time that doctors spend with them.”

Dr Khuram Maqbool said that the way care plans are devised, to ensure patients are fully involved with their treatment at all times, enables much more effective treatment to be administered.

“Families are fully involved and kept informed at all times in relation to the care being provided,” she said.

“Also the provision of services is equal for everyone here, irrespective of your socio-economic status. 

“I was very impressed with the community teams here – at home people still tend to be cared for by their families or have to go straight into hospital for treatment.

“It was also very interesting to spend time with the drug and alcohol team, Kashmir is mostly Muslim and we don’t have that kind of problem, so it was fascinating to see the challenges faced here that we are not used to.” 

Dr Hussain said he would like to express his thanks to consultant psychiatrist Dr Raheel Aziz and Trust undergraduate training coordinator Jacqui Harris, for helping to organise the students’ schedule over the past two weeks.     

All five visiting doctors said they would take much of their learning back home, to put into practice on their return, and all indicated that they would like to progress their career in one of the specialties provided by LPFT.

Medical Director Dr Sue Elcock, said she had been inspired by the dedication and willingness to learn shown by all the welcome visitors.

“It has been a pleasure to host the students over the past two weeks and it is clear that they have a real passion for providing the highest quality in patient care,” she said.

“I hope that they can take some valuable learning back with them as they continue with their studies and perhaps one day we will see them treating our patients in Lincolnshire.”


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