Michelle Craske, PhD (psychology and psychiatry professor at UCLA and co-director of the Depression Grand Challenge) was mentioned in a recent CNN article titled, “How a wooden bench is starting a revolution in mental health.” The article details Zimbabwe’s Friendship Bench Project, an inexpensive mental health intervention where individuals meet with a trained lay health worker at a community bench to receive problem-solving therapy. The patient works with the health worker, typically a highly respected community elder, to identify a problem (e.g.: unemployment) rather than a diagnosis, symptom or label. The novel solution was developed over a 20-year period from community research as a means to address Zimbabwe’s high levels of depression.
In the article, Professor Craske weighs in on the sustainability of this type of mental health service. She advocates that the, “use of digital platforms — such as laptops, tablets and smartphones,” be used in conjunction with such services in order to maintain a consistent high level of care. Doing so will, “encourage lay health workers to follow the same methods as a trained professional, they [digital platforms] automatically keep track of what has taken place in each session.”
Read more at CNN.