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The Community Resiliency Model: How Can We Truly Democratise Global Mental Health?

Nick Skenderian and his team from the Trauma Resource Institute, have developed an innovative, globally applicable model for mental health disorders treatment. Here’s a sneak preview of their Marmalade Festival session on 10th April!

On a global scale, mental health services are often inadequate and in some cases, non-existent. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), wide variations in mental health systems and services around the world largely contribute to a growing burden of mental disorders. The treatment gap—the gap between the need for treatment and its provision—is wide and varied in low-, middle- and high-income countries. Furthermore, it is expected that by 2030, depression alone will be the leading cause of disability worldwide, surpassing other pervasive chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and HIV.

Related: Mental health quotes to raise awareness and start a conversation.

Where mental health services do exist, the numbers are often so small that they do not have the capacity to address the throngs of community members who need help. For example, in Hinche, in the Central Plateau of Haiti, we met a young psychologist who had worked unpaid for over a year. She was the only psychologist for over 60,000 people. In the United States, there has been a waxing and waning of mental health services for the underserved, and there are wide differences across the country. Due to the stigma and costs associated with mental healthcare, services tend to be provided in larger group settings, as individual therapy is too costly or culturally inappropriate.

At the Trauma Resource Institute, we believe that as a world community, we must look at innovative interventions that can be used with large numbers of people, not only to build a prevention infrastructure for mental health challenges but also to create community capacity. While there is a growing need to provide professionally guided, individual and group therapies, community-based interventions are just as important, as they can be delivered in group formats and further disseminated through peer-to-peer networks by natural leaders within communities worldwide. This is TRI’s focal point—to take people from despair to hope through simple skills-based interventions, based on cutting-edge neuroscience, as well as build local capacity in diverse communities nationally and internationally.

The Community Resiliency Model® (CRM®), and associated CRM® Teacher Training program is our mental health innovation and our tool for democratising mental health all around the world. While most traditional modalities of mental health care focus on cognitive and psychological aspects as the entry points for alleviating the symptoms of traumatic reactions, CRM® focuses on the nervous system and biological responses themselves as the primary entry point to promote healing. The impact of this culturally-sensitive and people-centred model is multifaceted.

On April 10th, TRI will be hosting a workshop at Marmalade to share CRM® in the context of this year’s theme, Place-based Approaches to Social Change: To learn more about our work, you can view last year’s Skoll presentation, given by TRI Executive Director, Elaine Miller-Karas, as well as visit our website and our newest page on the mental health innovation networkCRM® develops a common language around trauma and resiliency, promotes experiential knowledge and training as well as provides easy-to-learn wellness skills that foster sustainable environments for self-care and care for others.

At the same time, our Teaching Training program empowers individuals to take the concepts and wellness skills of CRM® and apply them in the context of their own communities while receiving ongoing support from TRI. In this way, we use CRM® as a vehicle to not only democratize mental health but also destigmatize traumatic reactions by treating them as normal biological responses to extraordinary life events. 

 “I think this is what Nelson Mandela meant by the ‘Rainbow Nation’.  Learning about how to stabilize the nervous system is equality and is beyond nations, culture, religion and ethnicity.”

Oceana, CRM® Teacher (Johannesburg, South Africa)

By Nick Skenderian
Nick Skenderian is the Director of Program Development at Trauma Resource Institute in Claremont, California. He has a Master's in Global Health (with an emphasis in global mental health) from the University of Copenhagen and he’s have been working with TRI since 2014. Before that, he worked with the WHO (World Health Organisation) in mental health […]
Photo by Mick De Paola on Unsplash
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