Throughout my time in Africa I had the opportunity to work in female, male, and OPD psychiatric wards. I am very passionate about working in psychiatry and have experience working as an Employed Student Nurse in the Vernon Psychiatry ward last summer. In Zambia the psychiatric patients are split up into female and male wards as many other wards at Lewanika General Hospital. To become admitted, the patients see a psychiatric clinical officer in the Psych OPD. A psychiatric clinical officer acts as a psychiatrist in Canada - prescribing, diagnosing, admitting, and discharging patients. As seen in other parts of the hospital, the patients family are required to supply food, clean clothes, and hygiene products. This is also the same case for both psychiatric wards. Often the family is unable to supply food, clothing, and soap since there is a large stigma associated with mental illness in Zambia. I was able to bring t-shirts and hygiene products that were generously donated for our practicum and they were very well received on the wards. The staff were very grateful and stated that these donations would make a huge difference for the patients. When I went back to the ward at at a later time the patients were already wearing the shirts! It is very interesting see what we often take for granted in Canada can make such a difference here. I am so grateful that I was able to work with the very knowledgable staff on the psychiatric wards. It was an eye-opening experience to see the difference in conditions of psychiatric hospitals compared to Canada, but it was encouraging to see that the staff were very passionate about decreasing the stigma that is often associated with mental illness.
Sending love to all my family and friends back home!