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Educational Research for Social Change

On-line version ISSN 2221-4070

Abstract

EXNER, Rosemary; JANSEN, Jennifer; STROUD, Louise  and  DU PREEZ, Mingon. A multidisciplinary approach to university engagement: key considerations for dynamic mental health teaching and service provision to a disadvantaged community. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2017, vol.6, n.2, pp.60-75. ISSN 2221-4070.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2221-4070/2017/v6i2a5.

Scholarship has an obligation to society in that what is discovered through research and what is taught in the lecture hall should extend beyond the classroom and benefit the community. As a hub of training and knowledge in a local community, the challenge for a university exists in integrating community needs and university resources. Mental health is one discipline where this is particularly relevant and urgent due to the growing need for mental health interventions, particularly in under-serviced communities. A university is well positioned to develop a dynamic multidisciplinary approach to the biopsychosocial teaching of mental health practice and community service provision because it has extensive access to networks of current and future professionals. This reflective article explains the development of such a university-community collaborative initiative attached to the Missionvale Psychology Centre (MPC) at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) located in Port Elizabeth. It examines the broader teaching and learning opportunities afforded the students as well as the need to deliver a much needed service to the local community. In this article, the initiative is qualitatively analysed through the lens of a combination of observational experience and self-reflection. Insights gained and lessons learnt could benefit other health professionals in comparable positions who are faced with similar challenges in response to student training agendas and the social responsibility of universities in developing countries.

Keywords : community engagement; mental health; biopsychosocial; multidisciplinary; tranformative learning.

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