Working with spiritual leaders to deliver Cognitive Behavioural Therapy interventions in Haiti

  • Project Lead(s): Akwatu Khenti, Martineau Guerrier

    After the 2010 earthquake, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have become major barriers for many Haitians, as they strive to live productive lives and to contribute positively to economic recovery and development. The gap between the needs in the field and the available resources for mental health is alarming and marked by a shortage of trained professionals, a lack of integration between formal and informal mental healthcare providers and a long tradition of spiritual beliefs that attribute the causes of mental disorders to curses and spirits.

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that is effective for treating mental illnesses, including depression. Used in a timely and culturally-relevant way, it can be a useful tool for those striving to address common mental disorders early in the illness. The goal of this project is to introduce the Culturally Adapted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CACBT) approach to the Haitian context to enhance the knowledge, understanding and skills of spiritual leaders in Haiti, since they serve as the main informal providers of mental health care. This innovative approach will significantly improve the breadth of delivery of mental health programs and services for depression within the existing infrastructure, and will be sustainable at a community level.