What is Task Shifting?
- Task Shifting is when mental health therapy is delivered by lay individuals with no prior mental health training and often without any advanced degree.
- Tasks done by a licensed mental health provider are shifted to an unlicensed provider.
- Task Shifting has a solid research base developed in low resource environments, mostly in Africa and Asia, where there are literally only a handful of mental health providers in some countries.
- Researchers have found that non-licensed persons can be taught, using an apprenticeship model, to successfully deliver evidence-based trauma treatment, allowing lay individuals within the community to become, in effect, the therapist.
- Typically used with manualized, structured interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapies.
Parallels Exist in the Medical Field in the United States
- Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners provide a large percentage of primary care physical health services
- Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) or Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) nurses are commonly used in the US to provide survivor-sensitive medical examinations in cases of sexual assault and abuse
- However, all of these providers are highly trained.
Future Potential for Mental Health Services?
- Not currently in use in the US for mental health therapy
- Licensing and legal concerns need to be addressed first, and a training system would need to be set up.
- May be an option in the future for low resource communities in the US where tele-mental health is not an option due to technology issues, such as lack of high speed internet.