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Innovative practices for rights in Mental Health
Mental health problems can affect all of us, however, countries spend only 2% of their health budgets on mental health. In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75% of people with mental, neurological or substance use disorders receive no care at all (WHO, 2020). It’s time to get involved!
“Global emergency”, “unresolved global crisis” , are the terms used across nations to define the incidence of human rights violations in mental health. European countries and all the nations around the world have agreed upon that mental health is a « global problem » which needs to be treated.
New tools to improve Mental health care
In a 2018 publication on global mental health and sustainable development, the Lancet Commission reports that innovative practices regarding the treatment of mental health diseases could improve human rights violations of suffering people. In the same report they decide to highlight four innovative practices:
Improving access to psychosocial interventions:« The primary goal of psychosocial interventions is to facilitate the acquisition of skills to address the risk factors, mediators, or consequences of mental health conditions and to enable social circumstances for the patient’s recovery ». Furthermore, the Lancet Commission states that the strength of evidence for psychological therapies is at least as strong as for other treatment methods.
Several innovative strategies can facilitate dissemination of psychosocial therapies:« First, a major bottleneck to task sharing is the reliance on traditional face to face methods for training and on experts for supervision. Second, effective treatment packages typically comprise several similar elements spanning behavioural, interpersonal, cognitive, and emotional domains. The third approach for the scale up of psychosocial therapies is their direct dissemination to the patients who will benefit, in particular for secondary prevention of mental disorders ». This innovation is potentially the most disruptive, both in terms of the tradition it challenges and the effects it may have.
The balanced care approach to delivering mental health services:« The balanced care model is an evidence based, systematic but flexible approach to planning treatment and care for people with mental disorders ».This model can be relevant for low-income, medium-income, and high-income countries settings
The use of digital technologies: Thanks to new technologies and the rapid growth in mobile telecommunications and internet access, digital technologies are becoming important tools to use. The review Digital technology for treating and preventing mental disorders in low-income and middle-income countries, reveals five distinct roles of these technologies. « First, digital technology can help to educate the public and disseminate information about common mental disorders through antistigma campaigns, text messages or social media. Secondly, digital tools can facilitate screening and diagnosis of mental disorders. Furthermore, technology can support the treatment and care of people with mental disorders. Fourthly, digital technology can support effective training and supervision of nonspecialist health workers through digital learning and supervision platforms, by providing crucial decision support tools, or access to specialist consultation and support. Finally, technology can also support healthcare, system level efforts to improve mental health».
How to apply?
New initiatives like the ones presented above can be difficult to implement. This is why different projects, like the ImpleMentAll project, has been created. The MentAll project is a European collaboration created to contribute towards faster and more effective implementation of eHealth interventions. « ImpleMentAll is a true multidisciplinary, international collaboration that unites key experts in clinical practice, health, innovation, clinical research, and implementation science. The project consortium has been built with the aim of improving eHealth implementation in not only prosperous nations but all nations regardless of their economic status ».
They explain :
Only a few concrete actions have been taken yet, but they generally show good results. This is the case of SCARF mobile tele-psychiatry in Tamil Nadu, India.
According to The Lancet, in 2017, 193.3 millions people were affected by mental health disorders in India. The goal of SCARF operation is to use a mobile tele-psychiatry unit to provide services to remote rural communities. And it works! Some of them who have been treated testify:
For the future, more actions need to be developed to improve mental health around the world and defend human rights.
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