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Open Access Open Badges Case study

Building capacity in mental health interventions in low resource countries: an apprenticeship model for training local providers

Laura K Murray1*, Shannon Dorsey2, Paul Bolton1, Mark JD Jordans3, Atif Rahman4, Judith Bass5 and Helena Verdeli6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe Street, 8th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

2 Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, University of Washington, 2815 Eastlake Ave. E.; Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98102, USA

3 Department of Research and Development, HealthNet TPO, Tolstraat 127, 1074 VJ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

4 School of Population, Community and Behavioural Sciences, Child Mental Health Unit, University of Liverpool, Mulberry House, Eaton Road, Liverpool L12 2AP, UK

5 Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

6 Department of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA

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International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2011, 5:30  doi:10.1186/1752-4458-5-30

Published: 18 November 2011



Recent global mental health research suggests that mental health interventions can be adapted for use across cultures and in low resource environments. As evidence for the feasibility and effectiveness of certain specific interventions begins to accumulate, guidelines are needed for how to train, supervise, and ideally sustain mental health treatment delivery by local providers in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Model and case presentations

This paper presents an apprenticeship model for lay counselor training and supervision in mental health treatments in LMIC, developed and used by the authors in a range of mental health intervention studies conducted over the last decade in various low-resource settings. We describe the elements of this approach, the underlying logic, and provide examples drawn from our experiences working in 12 countries, with over 100 lay counselors.


We review the challenges experienced with this model, and propose some possible solutions.


We describe and discuss how this model is consistent with, and draws on, the broader dissemination and implementation (DI) literature.


In our experience, the apprenticeship model provides a useful framework for implementation of mental health interventions in LMIC. Our goal in this paper is to provide sufficient details about the apprenticeship model to guide other training efforts in mental health interventions.