Evidence from Community-based Psychosocial Support Interventions: Examples from Colombia and the Philippines   

Vulnerable individuals tend to enter the mental health system through the general community or primary care level. Therefore, it is essential to improve pathways to access these services at lower levels of care and ensure local leadership in service development. Community-based psychosocial support (CB-PSS) interventions are especially effective at providing targeted services in low- and middle-income countries. This is demonstrated by recent evidence about facilitators and barriers to conducting culturally appropriate CB-PSS group work in Colombia and by the positive outcomes of community-based drug rehabilitation (CBDR) services in the Philippines. 

Barriers and Facilitators to CB-PSS in Colombia 

Heartland Alliance International and Universidad de los Andes used qualitative research to explore the barriers, facilitators, and psychosocial changes associated with implementing a CB-PSS group intervention delivered by local lay providers to conflict-affected adults in Quibdó, Colombia, using both in-person and remote modalities.  

Among many implications and key findings, the authors emphasized that practitioners should consider integrating cultural practices and norms into CB-PSS groups and leveraging them via community lay providers. Including community leaders and lay community providers helped foster acceptability and tailoring to cultural norms and values of the Quibdó population. 

Despite the challenges presented by both remote and in-person service delivery, data revealed key contextual facilitators, including the community-based knowledge of facilitators and integration of traditional practices, such as the comadreo (informal talks and gatherings). Respondents shared that the CB-PSS groups promoted stronger community relationships and created opportunities for participants to exchange peer support, practice leadership skills, develop problem-solving skills base 

Their study was published in the journal Global Health: Science and Practice.  

Click here to download the journal article. 

Expanding Access to Community-Based Drug Rehab and Mental Health Care in the Philippines 

USAID’s partnership with the Philippine Department of Health has produced evidence- and community-based drug rehabilitation (CBDR) services in 22 local government units, made possible in part by RenewHealth activities implemented by URC. CBDR is evidence-based treatment designed to help low- and moderate-risk users avoid jail, recover, and remain productive members of society. This treatment protocol has been adopted by the Philippines Dangerous Drugs Board nationwide. In addition, the activity has trained 4,708 service providers in CBDR and more than 23,700 persons who use drugs have completed treatment. Click here to read more. 

CBMH Global Landscape Analysis & Support to Rapid Implementation Studies 

With support from USAID’s HEARD project, the Implementation Science Collaborative is informing community-based mental health (CBMH) efforts through two complementary activities: (1) a global landscape analysis of relevant CBMH interventions and policies, and (2) support to rapid implementation studies of ongoing CBMH interventions. Collectively, the geographic focus spans Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and touches on parts of the Middle East region.  Anchor partners in the Implementation Science Collaborative, together with an expanding network of new partners, are at the helm and bolstered by the Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Learning Collaborative

From the landscape analysis we will explore promising/innovative community-based approaches/interventions being implemented to address mental health across the life course; identify the actors in this space; and how the policy and strategy environment supports mental health investment and action. The rapid implementation studies will investigate specific interventions currently being implemented and address questions about how they are improving mental health outcomes (e.g. service access, clinical outcomes); and consider how these interventions rate on key implementation factors (e.g. acceptability, scalability, sustainability, adaptability).