Licensed clinical psychologist and researcher from the University of Pennsylvania , Dr. Anu Asnaani is partnering with HerStoire to facilitate a workshop for mental health service providers on Thursday, March 14th, 2019. This one-day training workshop, generously hosted by Bay Gardens Marina Haven and co-sponsored by Bank of Saint Lucia, will provide a forum to educate practitioners about the psychological consequences following a range of traumatic events (including assault, natural disaster, car accidents, among others), along with a review of evidence-based counseling treatments and resources available to providers in Saint Lucia to support recovery for survivors of trauma.

It is estimated that nearly 70% of populations across the globe will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetimes, and approximately 10-15% of individuals experiencing such distressing events will go on to develop significant mental health problems as a result, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety, specific phobias, depression, substance use, etc. In addition, the occurrence of these mental health issues following exposure to a traumatic event is associated with significant healthcare burden and distress for those experiencing such events, including greater number of days missed from work, significantly higher overall healthcare costs, and a distinct reduction in quality of life and life functioning.

There is significant data to suggest that children and adolescents who experience a traumatic event are at particular risk for altered negative trajectories of development (including higher rates of HIV, substance use, suicide risk, school dropout, teenage pregnancy, and poverty) if they do not receive intervention early on for dealing with their traumatic experiences, and thus, this is an age group that could benefit from early intervention.

Dr. Asnaani is hopeful that this forum will facilitate a better understanding around the current infrastructure and efforts related to this work and highlight needs for ongoing training in mental health services, in order to reduce dysfunction from this highly prevalent and highly distressing psychosocial issue. Given Dr. Asnaani’s extensive training in this area at some of the best institutions in the U.S., she affirms: “I have a personal and vested interest in bringing this knowledge back to my home country of St. Lucia to contribute to the mental health resources locally, by partnering with local organizations already doing phenomenal advocacy and public health work (such as HERStoire).” Currently, of high priority to Dr. Asnaani is the reinvestment of her training into bettering the mental health services and treatment options in Saint Lucia.

Also presenting is another daughter of the soil, Dr. Tammi-Marie Phillip, an attending child and adolescent psychiatrist at Butler Hospital and affiliated with the Brown Alpert Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island. Both speakers are very proud to be from Saint Lucia and are hopeful that this workshop is only the first of many training opportunities to which they can contribute moving forward.

The theme of the workshop is “Broadening Our Understanding of Trauma:  Psychological Consequences, Effective Treatments, and How to Engage in Provider Self-Care.”  There will also be a brainstorming session to engage counselors, mental health center administrators, advocates, and governmental bodies around practical ways to establish comprehensive care for those struggling with post-trauma mental health symptoms. Training in ways to practice self-care, and brief interventions will be provided for all stakeholders engaged in the provision of mental healthcare in the country.