Treating mental health in the community: A policy review. Understanding the interventions and quality of evidence in the community mental health sector

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Power to Change

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Power to Change

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This paper reviews the quality of evidence available on the effectiveness of different community approaches to mental health. It looks at 48 reviews covering 827 primary experimental and non-experimental studies, published between 2004 and 2017, drawn from the UK and comparable high-income countries. The paper looks mainly at the highest-quality evidence, defined as evaluations drawing on randomised control trials (RCTs), meta-analyses or comparative longitudinal data. Using guidelines and definitions established by Public Health England, it assesses what is known about mental health support in the community and what is not known.

The review found evidence that some ‘community-centred’ projects, which draw on the support networks and skills already available in a community, have a positive impact on mental health. However, there is no high-quality evidence that ‘community-based’ projects, which simply deliver services in a local area, without harnessing the social capital of the particular area, have a positive impact on mental health.

At a time when National and local government, as well as charitable foundations and trusts, are making decisions about the best way to invest limited resources to help people who need mental health support, and at a time of increased devolution of decisions involving care and the introduction of personal budgets, Power to Change believes that a stronger evidence-base is essential for informing these decisions.

Power to Change advises a move towards trialling new ‘community-centred’ projects in local places, with rigorous evaluations to assess the evidence that these projects are effective in helping people with mental health problems. These trials and evaluations could be funded by charities, or through commissioning and procurement processes by local authorities. Community businesses could also be considered to trial or deliver these projects.

Evidence Type: Literature Review

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Literature Review

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Power to Change (2017) Treating mental health in the community: A policy review. London: Power to Change