According to Ms. Esmerelda Mudong, a DDFT student and Vice President of the MEDDENT Society, which is the community service arm of the DDFT program, “Depression is a serious problem in Micronesia. But we don’t talk about it. People think that if someone is depressed it is because they are weak, or did something wrong. This stigma makes it hard for people to get the help they need. Events like this help Micronesians realize that depression is treatable, and that it is not your fault.”
The PIPHTC also developed various educational displays and programs detailing the treatment available for depression in Pohnpei. There were also displays and educational material on the linkage between diabetes and depression, with diabetics being three times as likely to experience depression than those without diabetes.
“Preliminary analysis of the confidential data collected during the event indicate that a significant number of students are suffering from mild-moderate depression,” said Dr. Mangum. “We can use this data to work with our partners, especially COM-FSM’s ancillary services, to develop community-based interventions to address this need. We can also use this data to inform our future delivery of continuing professional development programs in the area of mental health services.” PIHOA PIPHTC is currently working with the COM-FSM Division of Health Sciences, the Guam/Micronesia AHEC, and the Pohnpei Department of Health Services, to develop mental health and substance abuse counsellor training and certification programs.
The PIHOA PIPHTC is part of the larger Western Regional Public Health Training Centre based at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health. This HRSA-funded program works to upskill the public health workforce of the USAPI, as well as provide additional support services across the region.