Integrating Health Care Providers’ Opinions into Mental Health Service Planning for Underserved Populations

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Karen Grace Dyck
Melissa Tiessen
Andrea M Lee


Mental health planning, underserved, rural, northern, health care provider opinions


Psychological interventions are a cost-effective means of treating mental health issues and the preferred treatment over medication for many patients. Psychological interventions have also been successfully offered at a distance and have the potential to address contextual barriers – such as stigma, lack of anonymity, travel costs, limited local resources – to accessing services for many underserved populations, particularly rural and northern (R&N) communities. Gaining an accurate understanding of local providers’ opinions about mental health services (including newer technologically-supported interventions) appears essential to effective mental health planning. The current study surveyed local health care providers (physicians, nurses, paraprofessionals, mental health workers) in two large rural Manitoba health regions regarding perceived efficacy of various mental health resources, likelihood of recommending various resources, barriers and facilitators to recommending mental health resources, and recovery from mental illness. Data are presented within the context of informing regional mental health policy and planning. The importance of integrating newer technologically-supported treatments into the more familiar locally available services is highlighted. The application of stepped-care and collaborative mental health is also discussed.