Task-Shifting Therapy Models : A Review of Alternative Mental Health Care Practices in Zimbabwe
Chikungwa, Tapiwa C.
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Common mental disorders are an increasingly important health concern in low and middle-income countries, with depression identified as one of the leading causes for morbidity and disability. In Zimbabwe, economic and social constraints have also increased the incidence of common mental disorders, and depression in particular. However, there is a deficit of mental health professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, etc.). Researchers have begun to implement alternative mental health care programs ranging from online interventions, to task-sharing based interventions. Task-sharing methods that have largely employed lay health workers, and other health practitioners as service providers, have been shown to be a successful method of mental health care service provision. The incorporation of African Traditional medical practitioners and spiritual leaders in the implementation of intervention programs has also been identified as a potentially culturally congruent avenue through which to apply task-shifting models. The majority of mental health care research carried out in Zimbabwe, has focused on the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and appropriate care for people living with HIV/AIDS will be discussed. In addition, an evaluation of task-shifting programs in regards to vulnerable populations such women, people with disabilities, orphans or otherwise vulnerable children (OVC), and rural or poor communities will be examined. The analysis of intervention programs will discuss mental health stigma, cultural beliefs around mental health, and the social implications of counseling in the communities in which interventions are implemented. Though common mental disorders as a group will be explored, the literature reviewed emphasizes lay health worker counselling in cases of depression.