Academy of Care ©Goethe-Institut Myanmar

In the wake of World Mental Health Day, we are pleased to introduce you to the Academy of Care. Derived from our Program of Care (PoC) established in 2022, the Academy of Care is a new train-the-trainer, capacity-building program designed to empower individuals through creative forms of expression to work with those suffering from trauma and mental health issues. The program will run over the next two years.

The Academy of Care offers a hybrid, module-based program that fosters therapy grounded in art, music, and theater. It combines psychiatric and psychological methods with alternative therapeutic approaches and practices.

Cohort 2

For cohort 2 of the Academy of Care, we offer a two-month program which provides full scholarships for up to 10 participants.

Program Information

Initiated by the Goethe-Institute Myanmar with funding support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the inaugural phase of the Academy of Care, a two-month program, commenced on November 28, 2023. The program is structured into four phases:
  • Phase 1 kicks off with two seminars on mental health, empathy, psychological first aid, trauma, and stress management, along with site visits in Yangon.
  • Phase 2 includes two weeks of field research in your chosen community and one-on-one mentorship during the research.
  • Phase 3 involves an in-depth evaluation of individual experience, emphasizing biopsychosocial approaches, empathetic communication, and the development of community theater practices.
  • In Phase 4, local, regional, or international experts and experienced trainers introduce participants to creative practices such as music therapy. This phase includes hybrid lectures, one-day seminars, interactive workshops, and presentations.

Applications were accepted from all corners of Myanmar until the deadline on November 5. The shortlisted applicants underwent a step-by-step interview process conducted by trainers. Ultimately, we have decided to award 10 full scholarships to individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Additionally, there are plans for more training sessions throughout the two-year program period.

We eagerly anticipate the enriching contributions and personal growth of our esteemed participants in the Academy of Care.

About the project

Trauma management is of utmost importance in the Myanmar of today. Though the topic of mental health remains to a great extent taboo throughout Myanmar, it is being recognized more and more as a pressing issue that must be addressed. It can no longer be ignored. Dialogues concerning  mental health are arising with greater frequency. People are finding the courage to seek support. Similarly, a growing acknowledgment of a situation characterized by acute urgency is emerging from the pandemic, recent political and economic events in the country, widespread conflict, and national instability.

AoC’s mission: develop and provide professional expertise over the long term. What is learned, the practical experience that participants gain, and the established network will enable them to help people of all ages to “work through” their traumatic experiences. The Academy’s creative components will facilitate this process while breaking the grip of taboos. Once participants have completed the qualification program, they may be entitled to seed funding to set up their own initiatives and projects. These in turn will be accompanied by a mentor program.

The Academy of Care program includes a two-month training course that begins with a collective introductory training phase concerned with alternative methods and approaches in the field of therapy & the arts. Two weeks of field research follow, during which participants determine the needs of their respective communities. A subsequent three-week intensive training course enables participants to become better acquainted with art-, music-, and theater therapy while developing their projects with the experts. After this phase of knowledge and experience sharing, graduates return to the communities where they intend to work.

International trainers lead the modules. The project’s main local partners and advisors, Dr. San San Oo and Dr. Aung Min, have designed the framework program and coordinated the curriculum. Though the Academy of Care cannot claim to be an accredited training program due to on-site circumstances, it is nevertheless a certificate-based, interdisciplinary program that opens up new cultural career paths, builds and/or complements cultural infrastructures, and offers innovative professional perspectives in the framework of a hopeless occupational landscape.

The AoC’s cultural outreach program with long-term impact will reach new target groups and strategically develop cultural infrastructure. Further, the outreach will complement existing infrastructure while providing and activating “help for self-help”.

Approximately 60 to 90 people will train over two years to start their own initiatives and projects (depending on ability to act) with seed funding once the “Care Program” is completed. The group’s diversity should also impact peripheral areas by, for example, triggering long-term change and underpinning awareness about mental health in civil society.

The participants will reinforce infrastructures of knowledge and networks. Their core motivation: empathy and care.

The Aung Min Mental Health Clinic is the main partner.

Trainers and mentors have a track record of educational and professional experience in art, music and/or theater therapy — locally, regionally, and internationally.

The first phase of the Academy of Care is generously funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Goethe-Institut.

The developed structures reside in the new skills: the acquired expertise and the knowledge gained by the graduates are not embodied in the physical Academy but rather in the new skills. Knowledge travels with those who have received it and can use it.

The Academy of Care will implement the project over the next two years. We will pursue the objectives specified below to achieve the immediate results, and we will move forward to reach our goal.

The goal is to promote mental health and psychosocial support in Myanmar. How? By enhancing “niche expertise” and creating educational platforms for therapy through art, music and theater as well as by means of alternative therapies.

  1. To conduct 2 or 3 train-the-trainers training programs from 2023 to 2025. These will cover therapeutic approaches based on art, music, theater and alternative methods.
  2. To provide 3 to 5 grants (seed funding) to the successful trainees of the program for starting up their own initiatives or projects from 2024 to 2025.

  1. 60 to 90 potential candidates will train to become “trainers” of alternative creative therapy approaches over the course of two years.
  2. 3 to 5 startup initiatives or projects concerned with art-, music-, theater-based therapy and alternative therapy approaches will be funded through seed funding to benefit peripheral areas with the aim of triggering long-term change and fostering awareness of mental health in civil society. A mentorship program will accompany the seed-funded initiatives.
  3. An alum network will be generated among those participating in best practice and knowledge exchange, thus creating a support and safety net structure.

Help for self-help and “niche expertise” will be developed to apply and transfer skills obtained from the Academy of Care program train-the-trainer to include the biggest possible group, reaching out to those who want to accompany trauma coping collectively and individually for optimal civic/social impact.

The core planned activities are 2 or 3 training cycles per year (depending on available funds), with 10 to maximum 15 participants per cycle. Over two years, approximately 60 to 90 people will train to start their initiatives or projects (depending on their ability to act) with seed funding after completing the “Care Program”. The main partner is Aung Min Mental Health Clinic, the only on-site initiative specialized and highly qualified in this field. It operates from a locally strong, inclusive perspective, enjoying respect and trust on the ground while acting as a key point of contact for those seeking protection. As the main coordinator of the project, it will provide content expertise and an essential network.

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