Acceptability of Task-shifting Children’s Mental Health Care to Classroom Teachers in Darjeeling
Christina Cruz, MD, EdM
BACKGROUND: Approximately 20% of all children, with higher rates of burden in lower resource settings, suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition with 80%-90% will remain undiagnosed, untreated, afflicted lifelong and leading to full disability in many. The fundamental underlying cause of the child mental health treatment gap is insufficient human resources; innovative care models are urgently needed to address this challenge. GAP: Teachers have not been studied as potential and sustainable lay counselors to deliver children’s mental health despite their well-attuned skill set to do so, thought in part to be due to the additional workload that task-shifting children’s mental health care could create for them. HYPOTHESIS: A feasible task-shifting model of teacher-delivered children’s mental health care showing early signs of efficacy will be an acceptable model of children’s mental health care for teachers. METHODS: The proposed study tests the acceptability to teachers of classroom teachers delivering children’s mental health care. We plan to enroll 40 teachers and 80 students across 10 elementary schools located in the rural farming villages of Darjeeling, India. RESULTS: Pending (results are not yet publicly available). IMPACT: Should we find that teachers find this model of task-shifted mental health care acceptable, this intervention may solidify task-shifting as a viable option to deliver mental health care to children in LMICs. This contribution is significant because it is expected to have broad applicability for increasing access to care and reducing the child mental health treatment gap in resource-limited settings. This work is the result of a collaboration between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Colorado School of Public Health, Broadleaf Health and Education Alliance, and Darjeeling Ladenla Road Prerna.