Mental Health Integration in Primary Healthcare Services After the Earthquake in Nepal: A Mixed-Methods Program Evaluation

In the aftermath of the devastating 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, three non-governmental organizations collaborated to develop a program responding to the immediate mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) needs in three severely affected districts: Dhading, Gorkha and Sindhuli. The program was implemented between April 2015 and February 2017 and aimed to (i) strengthen health worker capacity to provide integrated MHPSS services; and (ii) increase access to mental health services. This paper describes the program’s implementation and the results of a pragmatic evaluation of the program’s overall reach, effectiveness and lessons learned. The mixed-methods evaluation used routine program data, quantitative data from pre- and post-tests conducted with trainees and service users, and qualitative data from stakeholder interviews and focus group discussions. A total of 1041 health workers received MHPSS training and supervision. Participants demonstrated significant improvements in skills, knowledge, and self-rated perceived competency. Trainees went on to provide MHPSS services to 3422 people. The most commonly identified presenting problems were epilepsy (29%) and depression (26%). A total of 67% of service users reported being ‘completely satisfied’ with the services received and 83% of those experiencing severe functional impairments on enrollment demonstrated improvement after receiving services. Despite operational challenges, the program successfully engaged both lay people and health workers to provide MHPSS in the aftermath of the crisis. Lessons learned can inform the planning and implementation of future training and integration programs to provide large-scale MHPSS efforts in humanitarian settings.

Start Date:2017

End Date:2020

Partners: University of New South Wales
Global Communities

Donors: International Medical Corps

Publications: Cambridge Prisms: Global Mental Health