Task shifting—perception of stake holders about adequacy of training and supervision for community mental health workers in Ghana

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There is growing interest in the effectiveness of task shifting as a strategy for addressing expanding health care challenges in settings with shortages of qualified health personnel. The aim of this study is to examine the perception of stakeholders about the adequacy of training, supervision and support offered to community mental health workers (CMHWs) in Ghana. To address this aim we designed and administered self-completed, semi-structured questionnaires adapted to three specific stakeholder groups in Ghana. The questionnaires were administered to 11 psychiatrists, 29 health policy implementers/coordinators and 164 CMHWs, across Ghana, including 71 (43.3%) Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs), 19 (11.6%) Clinical Psychiatric Officers (CPOs) and 74 (45.1%) Community Mental Health Officers (CMHOs). Almost all the stakeholders believed CMHWs in Ghana receive adequate training for the role they are expected to play although many identify some gaps in the training of these mental health workers for the expanded roles they actually play. There were statistically significant differences between the different CMHW groups and the types of in-service training they said they had attended, the frequency with which their work was supervised, and the frequency with which they received feedback from supervisors. CPOs were more likely to attend all the different kinds of in-service training than CMHOs and CPNs, while CMHOs were more likely than CPOs and CPNs to report that their work is never supervised or that they rarely or never receive feedback from supervisors. There was disparity between what CMHWs said were their experiences and the perception of policy makers with respect to the types of in-service training that is available to CMHWs. There is a need to review the task shifting arrangements, perhaps with a view to expanding it to include more responsibilities, and therefore review the curriculum of the training institution for CMHWs and also to offer them regular in-service training and formal supervision.

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