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Mental health interventions in Myanmar: a review of the academic and gray literature

  • A. J. Nguyen (a1), C. Lee (a2) (a3), M. Schojan (a4) and P. Bolton (a2) (a3) (a4)

Abstract

Background.

Recent political changes in Myanmar provide opportunities to expand mental health (MH) services. Given Myanmar's unique situation, we felt a need to assemble and interpret available local information on MH in Myanmar to inform service design, rather than simply drawing lessons from other countries. We reviewed academic and gray literature on the experience of MH problems in Myanmar and the suitability, availability, and effectiveness of MH and psychosocial programming.

Methods.

We searched: (1) Google Scholar; (2) PubMed; (3) PsychInfo; (4) English-language Myanmar journals and databases; (5) the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Network resources website; (6) websites and (7) local contacts of organizations identified during 2010 and 2013 mapping exercise of MHPSS providers; (8) the Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU) website; (9) University libraries in Yangon and Mandalay; and (10) identified local MH professionals.

Results.

Qualitative data suggest that MH conditions resulting from stress are similar to those experienced elsewhere. Fourteen intervention evaluations were identified: three on community-level interventions, three on adult religion-based practice (meditation), four adult psychotherapeutic interventions, and four child-focused interventions. Support for the acceptability and effectiveness of interventions is mostly anecdotal. With the exception of two rigorous, randomized control trials, most evaluations had serious methodologic limitations.

Conclusions.

Few evaluations of psychotherapeutic or psychosocial programs for people from Myanmar have been published in the black or gray literature. Incorporating rigorous evaluations into existing and future programs is imperative for expanding the evidence base for psychotherapeutic and psychosocial programs in this context.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

* Address for correspondence: A. J. Nguyen, Department of Human Services, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, 405 Emmet St S., Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA. (Email: ajnguyen@virginia.edu)

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Keywords

Mental health interventions in Myanmar: a review of the academic and gray literature

  • A. J. Nguyen (a1), C. Lee (a2) (a3), M. Schojan (a4) and P. Bolton (a2) (a3) (a4)

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