When they return to their communities, they may face mental-health issues that arise from everyday stress, as well as crises, disasters, trauma or violence. Using the MHF's guidelines they learn to identify and respond to cases of dementia, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and depression. The facilitators are not mental health workers but are first responders to help with problem-solving and to make referrals.

The curriculum is modified based on the culture of the country where it is being taught. In some countries, mental illness can be seen as spiritual punishment. In others, expressing feelings, especially for men, is a cultural dishonor. The stigma attached to mental illnesses can be a serious barrier to effective treatment.

"Our training helps facilitators identify all the possible sources of help available and how to get to them," Henderson says. "Sometimes, as in Bhutan where there are only two psychiatrists, this may mean a long journey or connecting with other medical personnel and professionals."

SOURCE Wake Forest University