The "treatment gap" in global mental health reconsidered: sociotherapy for collective trauma in Rwanda.

Jansen, Stefan, White, Ross, Hogwood, Jemma, Jansen, Angela, Gishoma, Darius, Mukamana, Donatilla and Richters, Annemiek
(2015) The "treatment gap" in global mental health reconsidered: sociotherapy for collective trauma in Rwanda. European journal of psychotraumatology, 6. 28706 - ?.

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<h4>Background</h4>The "treatment gap" (TG) for mental disorders refers to the difference that exists between the number of people who need care and those who receive care. The concept is strongly promoted by the World Health Organization and widely used in the context of low- and middle-income countries. Although accepting the many demonstrable benefits that flow from this approach, it is important to critically reflect on the limitations of the concept of the TG and its implications for building capacity for mental health services in Rwanda.<h4>Objective</h4>The article highlights concerns that the evidence base for mental health interventions is not globally valid, and problematizes the preponderance of psychiatric approaches in international guidelines for mental health. Specifically, the risk of medicalization of social problems and the limited way in which "community" has been conceptualized in global mental health discourses are addressed. Rather than being used as a method for increasing economic efficiency (i.e., reducing healthcare costs), "community" should be promoted as a means of harnessing collective strengths and resources to help promote mental well-being. This may be particularly beneficial for contexts, like Rwanda, where community life has been disrupted by collective violence, and the resulting social isolation constitutes an important determinant of mental distress.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Moving forward there is a need to consider alternative paradigms where individual distress is understood as a symptom of social distress, which extends beyond the more individually oriented TG paradigm. Sociotherapy, an intervention used in Rwanda over the past 10 years, is presented as an example of how communities of support can be built to promote mental health and psychosocial well-being.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2017 08:41
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2021 12:44
DOI: 10.3402/ejpt.v6.28706