A GROUP of Orange health professionals are about to embark on a unique experience on the other side of the world to provide support services for people off all ages with a mental illness in Nepal.
The seven health workers from Orange and one from Sydney have all come together in a network supported by the Rotary Club of Orange Daybreak, which has a strong commitment to projects in the country.
Leading the group will be Orange psychiatrist Dr Nicholas Burns.
“This will be such a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people living in Nepal who don’t have access to the types of mental health support and services we have here in Australia,” Dr Burns said.
He said he was inspired by fellow health worker Robyn Murray, who volunteered in Nepal in 2012 for another program.
“When Robyn came back and told us about how the country is struggling on so many levels, I just wanted to help,” Dr Burns said.
Ms Murray said mental health services were almost non-existent in Nepal due to the lack of funding, although with the resources available, the government made an effort to monitor all the work done by the numerous international agencies based outside Nepal.
“The Rotary Club of Orange Daybreak have been fantastic in supporting us,” Ms Murray said.
While their visit to deliver advice and support will only be during a two-week period, the team members felt they had devised a program that could best support workers on the ground and could be the fore-runner to return group visits.
“It will be challenging as we don’t have the advantage of time, as we do here in Australia, when it comes to mental health programs,” Dr Burns said.
He said in the whole of Nepal, there were only about 25 psychiatrists servicing a population of around 30 million people.
Orange-based occupational therapist Yvette Black said when she heard about the program, she jumped at the chance to become involved in overseas volunteer work.
Other health professionals from Orange involved in the group, which leaves Australia on Sunday, are Robyn Jeffrey, Nanette Fogarty, Evelyne Foucaut and Peter West.
They will be joined by Julie Corkin of Sydney.
They will use Kathmandu as their base initially before moving into the poorer regions to camp out in tents and deliver their help.