With the advent of diagnostic manuals and classification systems for mental health, the lives of people presenting with psychological issues can be inadvertently reduced to a list of symptoms, a score on an assessment tool and a prescription. The Black Dog Institute is a centre for education and research in Mood Disorders located in Randwick, Sydney. The GP program development team has created a suite of training programs for primary care designed to advance skills in identifying and managing mood disorders. While giving attention to the necessary ‘science’ of caring for patients with mood disorders, the Institute’s educational programs place human distress and human adversity at the centre of the learning experience. This includes defining the boundaries between distress and illness as well as understanding their coexistence and the often circular nature of the relationship between the two. Using a variety of techniques, such as documentary footage, enacted scenarios, role plays and case studies, the complex interplay of the biological, psychological and social are demonstrated and the meanings of this explored. These modalities also enable the lived experience of people affected by a mood disorder, and those close to them, to be given tangible expression. Most importantly, the humanity of participants in the programs is aroused in response to the very human struggle of those who are seeking help, so that an emotional engagement with the learning, above and beyond the gaining of knowledge, is attained.
Visit the Black Dog Institute at : http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/