A Community-Embedded Implementation Model for Mental-Health Interventions: Reaching the Hardest to Reach.
The mental-health-care treatment gap remains very large in low-resource communities, both within high-income countries and globally in low- and middle-income countries. Existing approaches for disseminating psychological interventions within health systems are not working well enough, and hard-to-reach, high-risk populations are often going unreached. Alternative implementation models are needed to expand access and to address the burden of mental-health disorders and risk factors at the family and community levels. In this article, we present empirically supported implementation strategies and propose an implementation model-the community-embedded model (CEM)-that integrates these approaches and situates them within social settings. Key elements of the model include (a) embedding in an existing, community-based social setting; (b) delivering prevention and treatment in tandem; (c) using multiproblem interventions; (d) delivering through lay providers within the social setting; and (e) facilitating relationships between community settings and external systems of care. We propose integrating these elements to maximize the benefits of each to improve clinical outcomes and sustainment of interventions. A case study illustrates the application of the CEM to the delivery of a family-based prevention and treatment intervention within the social setting of religious congregations in Kenya. The discussion highlights challenges and opportunities for applying the CEM across contexts and interventions.
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