Digital Technology for Building Capacity of Non-specialist Health Workers for Task-Sharing and Scaling Up Mental Health Care Globally

2019John A. Naslund, PhD, Rahul Shidhaye, MD, and Vikram Patel, PhD

In this perspectives article, we consider the potential that digital technology holds for supporting non-specialist health workers in delivering evidence-based mental health care. Specifically, from our search of the academic literature, we identified seven promising examples from primary care settings in different low-income and middle-income countries (including India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Peru, China, and Nigeria) where digital platforms are being used to support delivery of mental health care from a variety of non-specialist providers by offering training, digital tools for diagnosis, guiding treatment, facilitating supervision, and integrating services. We summarize these examples and discuss future opportunities to use digital technology for supporting the development of a trained, effective, and sustainable mental health workforce. We also consider the potential to leverage these technologies for integrating mental health care into existing health systems in low resource settings.

Key wordsmental health / mental health systems / universal mental health