In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), addressing the high prevalence of mental disorders is a challenge given the limited number and unequal distribution of specialists, as well as scarce resources allocated to mental health. The Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) and its accompanying Intervention Guide (IG), developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), aim to address this challenge by training non-specialists such as general practitioners (GPs) in mental health care. This trial aims to implement and evaluate an adapted version of the mhGAP-IG (version 1.0) offered to GPs in 2 governorates of Tunisia (i.e., Tunis and Sousse), in order to uncover important information regarding implementation process and study design before country-wide implementation and evaluation.
First, a systematic review will be conducted to explore types and effectiveness of mental health training programs offered to GPs around the world, with a specific focus on programs implemented and evaluated in LMICs. Second, a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented training based on the mhGAP-IG (version 1.0). Third, multiple case study design will be used to explore how contextual factors impact the successful implementation of the training and desired outcomes.
In Tunisia, an important need exists to further develop proximity health services and to address the growing mental health treatment gap. One solution is to train GPs in the detection, treatment, and management of mental health problems, given their strategic role in the healthcare system. This trial thus aims to implement and evaluate an adapted version of a training based on the mhGAP-IG (version 1.0) in Tunis and Sousse before country-wide implementation and evaluation. Several contributions are envisioned: adding to the growing evidence on the mhGAP and its accompanying guide, especially in French-speaking nations; building research capacity in Tunisia and more generally in LMICs by employing rigorous designs; evaluating an adapted version of the mhGAP-IG (version 1.0) on a sample of GPs; generating important information regarding implementation process and study design before country-wide implementation; and complimenting the trial results with implementation analysis, a priority in global mental health.