Conducting global mental health research: lessons learned from Kenya

Transforming mental health for all

Mental health disorders are prevalent among youth and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries and access to evidence-based treatments is poor. Although there is a great need for high-quality research to serve young people in low- and middle-income countries, there is limited guidance available for researchers who wish to conduct such work. Here, we describe our process of conducting school-based youth mental health work in Kenya over the last several years. We focus on five key lessons we learned that could guide future global mental health work with youth: (a) reducing stigma with strengths-focused interventions, (b) expanding access by working in schools, (c) generating buy-in from local stakeholders, (d) adapting the intervention via multicultural collaboration, and (e) applying insights from low- and middle-income countries to serve young people in high-income countries. We conclude by discussing how these lessons, and those shared by other teams, can be applied to help reduce the treatment gap for young people around the world.

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