Between 2011 and 2014, the Positive Outlook project built capacity among front line AIDS and other health care and rehabilitation workers to identify and appropriately address depression among people living with or vulnerable to HIV or other episodic illnesses. In addition to skills building, the Positive Outlook project encouraged course participants to network as a mechanism for ongoing support and sustainable learning.
Depression has long been recognized as a primary health concern among people living with or vulnerable to HIV (WHO 2008). In Canada and internationally, depression is an issue that affects people living with HIV in all geographical locations (BC Prevalence Study 2004, Williams 2005 and WHO 2008).
This is often a difficult and challenging issue for front line workers who, in most cases, are not provided training on how to deal with this potentially debilitating condition. (Trap Doors, 2008) Often front-line HIV workers and rehabilitation clinicians who are the most likely to encounter people living with mental health issues resulting from long term illness or trauma are the least likely to have any training on mental health interventions. It is difficult to proceed with the original intended rehabilitation interventions or service provision as the client may have little motivation and experience difficulty focusing. Front line HIV workers and rehabilitation clinicians, then, in turn, experience frustration at their lack of ability to assist in addressing their client’s mental health issues and they themselves experience diminished workplace satisfaction.
The Positive Outlook Project sought to address these issues by developing and offering targeted training to front-line HIV workers and rehabilitation clinicians on intervention techniques and resources appropriate to working with clients experiencing episodic illnesses and showing signs of depression.
Project Objectives were:
- To increase capacity of front-line HIV service workers (from AIDS Service Organizations (ASO), other community programs and health clinics) and front-line rehabilitation professionals (e.g. Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Social Workers) through the provision of training on how to recognize and assist people living with or vulnerable to HIV who show signs and symptoms of depression.
- To promote improved access to mental health services and support for people living with HIV through interprofessional collaboration and partnerships among the above named frontline workers in response to depression among people living with or vulnerable to HIV and other episodic disabilities.
- To develop and evaluate a course for frontline workers as a model for capacity building to address depression among people living with and or vulnerable to HIV and other episodic disabilities.
- To promote sustainability of capacity building among front-line workers on issues of depression and HIV and other episodic disabilities.
The Positive Outlook Project included the following activities:
- An assessment of the needs related to depression in local communities, through interviews with identified course co-facilitators in communities where course sessions will be held
- Development of a new curriculum and interventions for front line workers related to depression among people living with or vulnerable to HIV and other episodic disabilities
- Implementation of the new curriculum across Canada in course sessions for front line workers (ASOs, other community organizations and rehabilitation programs) who work with people living with or vulnerable to HIV who may present with depression
- Establishment of an ongoing online network/forum for course participants and facilitators to enable continued engagement and support for work related to depression and HIV and other episodic disabilities
- Evaluation of the course as a model for capacity building for front line workers in addressing depression among people living with or vulnerable to HIV and other episodic disabilities
- Submission of abstracts on the course and this project for conference presentations, articles for journals/other publications and other knowledge exchange opportunities
The overall desired outcome for this project was improved care for people living with or vulnerable to HIV and other episodic disabilities who are experiencing depression. To achieve this, the project aimed to achieve the following:
- Improved capacity of front line HIV workers and rehabilitation clinicians to recognize and appropriately address depression among people living with or vulnerable to HIV and other episodic disabilities.
- Reduced stress and burnout among front line workers who work with people living with or vulnerable to HIV and other episodic disabilities and depression.
- Increased collaboration, networking and support among front-line workers to address depression in the people who use their services and collaborate on ways to assist one another in the care and support of people living with or vulnerable to HIV and other episodic disabilities who also experience depression.
- Skills building and practice identifying and assessing depression, and engaging in respectful interaction with clients living with episodic disability and depression.
Should you have any questions about the Positive Outlook Project, please contact Melissa Egan, National Lead, Episodic Disabilities, firstname.lastname@example.org.