Strengthening Mental Health Worldwide

INDIGO-LOCAL: Raising community awareness to improve access to mental health services (Leads: Dr. Maya Semrau and Nicole Votruba)

Aims: To examine the effectiveness of a local public knowledge and awareness campaign about mental illness on referral rates to local mental health care services.

Methods: A local mental health public knowledge and awareness campaign will be implemented through: 1) a ‘training of trainers’ program, and 2) use of the media. The main aim of the campaign will be to challenge public misconceptions around mental illness (including the treatability of mental illnesses) and to increase uptake of mental health services. For the ‘training of trainers’ program, local senior primary health care and/or mental health staff will be trained to deliver an initial week of training to local community mental health workers (who hold a position of respect in the community), with one-day booster training delivered on an annual basis. The training will include advice about the location and availability of mental health services (including opening times), referral methods, follow-up and monitoring of service users by community mental health workers, and the costs involved. Training will also include either live contact with a mental health service user, or video clips showing the lived experience of mental illness by service users, depending on the cultural appropriateness of including and/or availability of a local mental health service user. In addition, local media outlets (for example, announcements in local radio or television, newspaper articles) will be used to help increase public knowledge and improve awareness around mental illness (also using clips demonstrating the lived experience of mental illness and/or interviews with mental health service users), and to inform about the availability of mental health services.

Outcome measures:

  •  Number of referral rates to mental health services by community mental health workers
  •  Uptake of mental health services (including total number of service users seen, total number of new referrals)

Number of participants: To be delivered to a minimum of 20 community mental health workers, depending on the local resources available.

Anticipated timescale: To be delivered over a minimum of 1 years.

Reference: Eaton J, Agomoh AO. Developing mental health services in Nigeria : the impact of a community-based mental health awareness programme. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 2008;43(7):552-8.)

Countries who participated in INDIGO LOCAL Project