A Guide for Planning and Implementing Successful Mental Health Educational Programs

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Considering the global burden of mental disorders, there is a worldwide need to improve the quality of mental health care. In order to address this issue, a change in how health care professionals are trained may be essential. However, the majority of the few reports published on this field's training programs do not discuss the characteristics associated with the success or failure of these strategies. The purpose of this review was to systematically examine the literature about mental health training programs designed for health care professionals in order to identify the relevant factors associated with their effective implementation.


The MEDLINE/PubMed, SciELO, and Virtual Health Library databases were used to search for articles published before February 2017 and reviewed by two double-blind reviewers.


We found 77 original papers about mental health educational programs. Many of these studies were conducted in the USA (39%), addressed depression as the main subject (34%), and applied a quasi-experimental design (52%). Effective interventions were associated with the following characteristics: the use of learner-centered and interactive methodological approaches; a curriculum based on challenges in the trainees' daily routines; the involvement of experts in the program's development; the enrollment of experienced participants; interdisciplinary group work; flexible timing; the use of e-learning resources; and optimizing the implementation of knowledge into the participants' routine work practices.

Implications for Practice:

These results will be helpful for planning and improving the quality of future educational programs in mental health.

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