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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2019 Oct;87(10):962-966. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000434.

Applying lessons from task sharing in global mental health to the opioid crisis.

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Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park.
Department of Medicine, University of Washington.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council.


The current opioid crisis in the United States has been considered an "epidemic of poor access to care." Similar to the shortage of trained providers to prescribe medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD), there is a severe shortage of trained providers to meet the mental health needs of patients with OUD. These workforce shortages are evident nationwide, yet are particularly salient in rural areas. In this commentary in response to the article "Integrating Addiction Medicine into Rural Primary Care: Strategies and Initial Outcomes (Logan et al., 2019)," we propose that we can apply lessons learned from working in resource-constrained settings globally to improve access to mental health care for patients with OUD in rural areas in the United States. We expand upon Logan et al. (2019) by discussing how non-specialist health workers, including community health workers and peer providers, under the supervision of psychologists and other specialists, can expand access to evidence-based mental health care for patients with OUD, particularly those receiving medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). We draw from established models in global mental health that rely on "task sharing" mental health care to discuss ways in which lessons learned from scaling up evidence-based interventions with lay health workers in low and middle-income countries can directly inform efforts to increase access to mental health care to address the opioid crisis. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

[Available on 2020-10-01]

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