Origins of the project: The project started in 2011 between Montreal and N'Djamena
About the project: The virtual psychology clinic is currently offering consultation and psychoeducation to service users in N’Djamena. The project founder in Montreal contacts service users in N’Djamena via voice-over-internet protocol software (Skype). The objective is to offer services that are primarily educational, respectful, and mindful of the cultural context, while not importing western ideology to the extent possible. Services users are selected based on psychosocial and mental health needs. Our network of support for this project includes a coordinator and a medical professional in N'Djamena, along with psychologists and medical professionals in Montreal, as collaborators and consultants. We have developed a training framework for local health workers to incorporate psychological treatment into primary health care. We are examining the possibility of using the medium of the virtual clinic to train local health workers (nurses, health technicians, midwives, medical students, doctors) to offer mental health services in their respective practices, and potentially also virtually.
Challenges: The problems encountered so far are rather minor but impact service delivery. These include frequent connectivity problem and electricity outage in N'Djamena. Occasionally we encounter difficulties related to context and culture. In those cases we are forced to terminate service.
Outcome: All users report finding the service very useful. There is something about care provided through distance that users find special and resonating. It seems to offer something above and beyond the work itself and portrays considerate care, concern, and empathy. I believe this adds to users' potential for healing. I feel privileged to be able to provide this assistance, to have users trust despite the cultural differences, and to be able to stand beside another human being along their journey to health.
Funding: This project is currently funded by me (personal funds). My work is pro bono as is the work of other professionals involved.
Invitation: If you are interested in getting involved in this project in some capacity, you can send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking French would a major asset,
If you are interested in establishing a virtual clinic to offer similar services elsewhere I would be happy to share our model and what we've learned.