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Evidence shows benefits of psychological treatments in low-resource countries, yet few government health systems include psychological services.
Evaluating the clinical value of adding psychological treatments, delivered by community-based counsellors, to primary care-based mental health services for depression and alcohol use disorder (AUD), as recommended by the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP).
Two randomised controlled trials, separately for depression and AUD, were carried out. Participants were randomly allocated (1:1) to mental healthcare delivered by mhGAP-trained primary care workers (psychoeducation and psychotropic medicines when indicated), or the same services plus individual psychological treatments (Healthy Activity Program for depression and Counselling for Alcohol Problems). Primary outcomes were symptom severity, measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire – 9 item (PHQ-9) for depression and the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test for AUD, and functional impairment, measured using the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS), at 12 months post-enrolment.
Participants with depression in the intervention arm (n = 60) had greater reduction in PHQ-9 and WHODAS scores compared with participants in the control (n = 60) (PHQ-9: M = −5.90, 95% CI −7.55 to −4.25, β = −3.68, 95% CI −5.68 to −1.67, P < 0.001, Cohen's d = 0.66; WHODAS: M = −12.21, 95% CI −19.58 to −4.84, β = −10.74, 95% CI −19.96 to −1.53, P= 0.022, Cohen's d = 0.42). For the AUD trial, no significant effect was found when comparing control (n = 80) and intervention participants (n = 82).
Adding a psychological treatment delivered by community-based counsellors increases treatment effects for depression compared with only mhGAP-based services by primary health workers 12 months post-treatment.
Accurate detection of persons in need of mental healthcare is crucial to
reduce the treatment gap between psychiatric burden and service use in
low- and middle-income (LAMI) countries.
To evaluate the accuracy of a community-based proactive case-finding
strategy (Community Informant Detection Tool, CIDT), involving pictorial
vignettes, designed to initiate pathways for mental health treatment in
primary care settings.
Community informants using the CIDT identified screen positive
(n = 110) and negative persons (n =
85). Participants were then administered the Composite International
Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
The CIDT has a positive predictive value of 0.64 (0.68 for adults only)
and a negative predictive value of 0.93 (0.91 for adults only).
The CIDT has promising detection properties for psychiatric caseness.
Further research should investigate its potential to increase demand for,
and access to, mental health services.
Very little is known on the impact of recurrent disasters on mental health.
The present study examines the immediate impact of a recurrent flood on mental health and functioning among an affected population in the rural district of Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, India, compared with a population in the same region that is not affected by floods.
The study compared 318 affected respondents with 308 individuals who were not affected by floods. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were assessed by the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 (HSCL-25). Psychological and physical functioning was assessed by using the Short Form-12 (SF-12).
The affected group showed large to very large differences with the comparison group on symptoms of anxiety (D = .92) and depression (D = 1.22). The affected group scored significantly lower on psychological and physical functioning than the comparison group (respectively D = .33 and D = .80). However, hierarchical linear regressions showed no significant relationship between mental health and the domains of functioning in the affected group, whereas mental health and the domains of functioning were significantly related in the comparison group.
This study found a large negative impact of the recurrent floods on mental health outcomes and psychological and physical functioning. However, in a context with recurrent floods, disaster mental health status is not a relevant predictor of functioning. The findings suggest that the observed mental health status and impaired functioning in this context are also outcomes of another mechanism: Both outcomes are likely to be related to the erosion of the social and environmental and material context. As such, the findings refer to a need to implement psychosocial context-oriented interventions to address the erosion of the context rather than specific mental health interventions.
WindTR, JoshiPC, KleberRJ, KomproeIH. The Impact of Recurrent Disasters on Mental Health: A Study on Seasonal Floods in Northern India. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(3):1-7.
A principal strategy for the integration of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings is the training of front-line workers in international consensus-based guidelines.
This paper presents a pilot study evaluating changes in knowledge and understanding as a result of a brief training course in Nepal.
Evaluation questionnaires were distributed to participants in two-day courses (n = 109) before, directly after, and at two months following completion.
The course resulted in a post-training increase in correct answers of 21%, which further increased to 25% at two months.
A short training course based on widely endorsed guidelines to front-line staff can significantly increase mental health literacy for complex emergencies. While promising, the trend of knowledge gain is modest at most, and suggests a need for more intensive or more targeted training courses.
Jordans MJD, Luitel NP, Poudyal B, Tol WA, Komproe IH. Evaluation of a brief training on mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies: a pre- and post-assessment in Nepal. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012;27(3):1-4.
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