PAHO/WHO to Conduct Training in Jamaica to Enhance Community Mental Health Services

Building Competencies for Quality Mental Health Support: EQUIP Empowers Community Helpers in Jamaica

A capacity-building session focused on Ensuring Quality in Psychological Support (EQUIP) was held in Kingston, Jamaica on March 20, 2024. The session, facilitated by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), aimed to enhance the competence of helpers and improve the consistency and quality of training and service delivery. Dr. James Underhill of WHO led the three-hour workshop, which was attended by approximately 20 trainees.

Since its initiation in July 2022, PM+ has been providing mental health support to individuals in communities through 55 supervisors and 212 providers from at least 20 faith-based and community-based organizations. Efforts are underway to further enhance the skills of individuals already working within communities. The training conducted will facilitate discussions on current strengths, identify potentially harmful behaviors, and pinpoint areas for improvement during the implementation of the PM+ program. Existing training and supervision plans will be personalized to ensure the delivery of better quality support.

Research has demonstrated that individuals who are not mental health specialists can effectively administer psychological interventions with proper training and supervision. The supervisors and providers who participated in the workshop are expected to be better prepared to integrate competency measures into the PM+ program. Competency-based training approaches have been successful in various healthcare areas in low-resource settings.

The EQUIP program will be used to assess Problem Management Plus (PM+) competencies during its implementation in Jamaica. This scalable community intervention developed by WHO employs a problem-solving approach to assist people in managing adversity and everyday challenges. It equips community members with the tools necessary to offer support to others who may be struggling to cope. By enhancing their skills through this training session, these individuals will be better equipped to provide effective mental health support within their communities.

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