Approaches to Expanding Mental Health Care Reported in Science Magazine
14 May 2012
The report, Who Needs Psychiatrists?, appearing in the March 15, 2012, issue of Science features the work of Byron and Mary-Jo Good and others to develop strategies for improving mental health care in developing countries where psychiatrists are scarce. A slide show accompanies the report.
In the report, author Greg Miller writes, "Provincial health authorities, aided by foreign advisers, are creating a community mental health program that shifts much of the work traditionally done by psychiatrists to general practitioners, nurses, and even village volunteers." The report focuses on projects in Aceh, Indonesia, developed in response to the devastating tsunami of 2004 as well as the end of a long war. Researchers in Aceh are testing whether nonpsychiatrists can provide adequate psychiatric care. "If these projects succeed," notes Miller, "they could be a model for other developing countries, where mental illness is an enormous, if largely underappreciated cause of disability and financial hardship." GHSM Professor Byron Good is quoted defending the use of nonpsychiatrists and describing the careful training that use of nonpsychiatrists requires. The article gives an overview of recent global attention going to mental health care and describes programs in Pakistan and India as well.