According to the World Health Organization, there is a vastly unmet need for mental health services worldwide. This need cannot be adequately addressed by the dominant model of care in which highly trained mental health professionals provide individual therapy. Kazdin and Rabbitt (2013) have outlined several alternative strategies for delivering mental health services to low resource communities in developing and developed countries. These strategies include: (1) task shifting – redistributing the delivery of mental health services to nonprofessional community health workers, a strategy shown to be effective in India where lay counselors were trained to provide treatment for anxiety and depression; (2) disruptive innovations (a term used in the business world to refer to technologies that radically transform or create markets) — when applied to mental health, this includes treatment delivered via smartphones, tablets, the Internet, and video conferencing; (3) interventions in everyday settings, such as schools, workplaces, homes, churches, and prisons — modeled after physical health interventions, such as the Healthy Hair Starts With a Healthy Body Program, in which 700 Michigan hair stylists were trained to provide education on stroke prevention; (4) best-buy interventions – highly cost effective and easily implementable programs, such as taxing alcoholic beverages to reduce alcohol consumption or providing medication and brief psychotherapy to treat depression; (5) lifestyle changes – such as exercise programs and activities that facilitate social engagement; and (6) social media – including the use of blogs, social network sites, virtual social worlds, online communities, and virtual games to provide mental health screening, treatment and social support.
Strategies for Delivering Mental Health Services to Low Resource Communities
Kazdin, A. E. & Rabbitt, S. M. (2013). Novel models for delivering mental health services and reducing the burdens of mental illness. Clinical Psychological Science, 1(2), 170-191.
Mental Health TherapyMedia Supplement
In this TED Talk, Vikram Patel, co-founder of Sangath, an NGO dedicated to mental health and family wellbeing, discusses strategies for bringing mental health care to low resource communities. [12 min 22 sec]