News @ JSI

JSI Authors Receive Article of the Year Award

July 26, 2017

Integrating Mental Health and HIV Services in Zimbabwean Communities: A Nurse and Community-led Approach to Reach the Most Vulnerable, co-authored by JSI staff, has been selected to receive the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Article of the Year Award.

The Zimbabwe pilot study examined the acceptability and feasibility of an integrated mental health and HIV stepped-care approach in nurses, community health workers, and traditional medicine practitioners in nine communities across the country.

Employing the stepped-care model created therapeutic intervention availability at multiple entry points in communities to address the mental health needs of people living with HIV (PLWH). Nurses, community health workers, and traditional medicine practitioners providing routine HIV services in clinic and community settings were trained to: 1) screen for common mental disorders, including harmful alcohol and substance use; 2) provide basic counseling and therapeutic interventions for positive screens; 3) facilitate referrals to higher-level mental health services including medication, counseling therapy, and psychosocial services, and; 4) create a protocol for mental health emergencies such as suicidal ideation and acute alcohol withdrawal.

The most important finding of this study was the widespread feasibility and acceptability for the mental health and HIV integrated stepped-care approach noted by focus group discussion participants. All providers saw the value of integrating mental health into routine HIV care and recommended that mental health screens take place at each visit, similar to a blood pressure check.

While results and recommendations presented in the study are specific to Zimbabwe, they indicate that integrating mental health and HIV services is feasible and acceptable, and that integration can expand availability of mental health services for PLWH.