Health Volunteers Overseas has announced that WWU Instructor and Research Associate in the Department of Psychology, Anne Marie Tietjen, is this year’s recipient of the HVO Golden Apple Award.
HVO is a nonprofit organization seeking to improve global health through education of the local health workforce in resource-scarce countries. Their volunteers, like Tietjen, train the next generation of providers while mentoring and working alongside those already in practice to support and sustain them in their work.
Tietjen has volunteered as a clinical psychologist at HVO’s mental health project at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Bhutan for three months each year since 2017, and has served as project director since 2018.
“Each individual honored with this award has demonstrated a commitment to HVO’s mission to improve global health through the education, training, and professional development of the health workforce in resource-scarce countries,” said HVO’s press release.
Tietjen, honored to receive the award, said that her work in Bhutan is part of a greater issue around bringing mental healthcare to rural and underserved populations in the developing world.
“Mental health problems account for a large portion of the global burden of disease,” Tietjen said. “People in low- and middle-income countries who have mental health problems are much less likely than those of us in wealthier countries to be able to get treatment because resources are scarce. In Bhutan I've been able to teach counseling skills to the first three cohorts of students in the new counselor training program. They will be among the first counselors in the country.”
Tietjen explained that a focus has been working with students on developing ways of integrating Bhutanese cultural wisdom into mental health treatment, rather than just teaching Western treatment methods, making it a mutual learning experience.
“Mental health care helps individuals live full lives, and this is important not only for the individuals, but for their families and the societies they live in,” Tietjen said. “It's very satisfying to see an individual's growth, and to know that there will be ripple effects as well.”
Tietjen said she is scheduled to work in Bhutan again in the fall of 2020, if it is possible to move freely in the world again by that time. She has been in touch with students and colleagues in Bhutan about mental health issues associated with the pandemic and is doing some writing about integrating Bhutanese cultural wisdom into psychotherapy for Bhutan.
“I'd like to encourage students to become more aware of the ways we are connected to others around the world and to look for opportunities to learn about other cultures both within the United States and abroad. We have so much to learn from each other,” Tietjen said.
For more information about her work in Bhutan or her Golden Apple Award, contact Anne Marie Tietjen at firstname.lastname@example.org.