Supporting the mental wellbeing of Community Health Workers
In May 2020, the George Institute for Global Health and the Thematic Working Group on Community Health Workers (CHWs) of Health Systems Global collaborated on a survey to assess the availability of resources that support the mental wellbeing of CHWs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey received 74 complete responses (25% from India; 8% from Kenya; 5% from Peru amongst many other countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal, the Philippines and South Africa) from a range of organisations, predominantly those working directly with CHWs. A key finding was that while ~50% of organisations noticed mental health symptoms among CHWs and 55% were providing support via mechanisms such as online training and Whatsapp peer support, thus far these interventions have not been evaluated and major gaps persist in supporting the mental health of CHWs.
In response, we are planning a virtual workshop to identify strategies for:
disseminating gender-sensitive resources to CHWs, especially those working in LMICs, that can help them manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of mental distress;
encouraging uptake of such resources, despite stigma around mental illness and competing demands on the CHWs’ time;
developing a plan for evaluating the acceptability and effectiveness of these resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.