Mobilizing Community Health Workers to Address Mental Health Disparities for Underserved Populations: A Systematic Review

  • Miya L. BarnettEmail author
  • Araceli Gonzalez
  • Jeanne Miranda
  • Denise A. Chavira
  • Anna S. Lau
Original Article


This systematic review evaluates efforts to date to involve community health workers (CHWs) in delivering evidence-based mental health interventions to underserved communities in the United States and in low- and middle-income countries. Forty-three articles (39 trials) were reviewed to characterize the background characteristics of CHW, their role in intervention delivery, the types of interventions they delivered, and the implementation supports they received. The majority of trials found that CHW-delivered interventions led to symptom reduction. Training CHWs to support the delivery of evidence-based practices may help to address mental health disparities. Areas for future research as well as clinical and policy implications are discussed.


Community health workers Mental health disparities 



Funding for this project was supported by NIMH K01MH110608 (Barnett).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the systematic review

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling, Clinical, & School PsychologyUniversity of California, Gervitz Graduate School of EducationSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State UniversityLong BeachUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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