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Community Health Workers and Stigma Associated with Mental Illness: An Integrative Literature Review

Abstract

Community health workers (CHWs) are facilitators between health services and service users, providing essential and effective support to those seeking health care. However, stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental illness also exist among CHWs and are based on prejudicial and biasedopinions. This integrative review critically assessed evidence regarding CHWs approaches for addressing mental health issues. In total, 19 studies were included in this review. The results revealed that CHWs have limited knowledge about mental illness and also stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental illness or substance use problems. Despite feeling unprepared, CHWs are favorable resources for mental health care and can contribute to reducing stigma due to the similarities they share with the communities that they serve. Task-sharing between health professionals and CHWs is an important strategy to improve access to health services and reducing stigma towards people with mental illness, provided that receive adequate training to perform the duties.

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Carrara, B.S., Bobbili, S.J. & Ventura, C.A.A. Community Health Workers and Stigma Associated with Mental Illness: An Integrative Literature Review. Community Ment Health J (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-022-00993-z

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Keywords

  • Community health workers
  • Mental health
  • Primary Health Care