Behavioral Health Optimization Program
Applied Research Evaluation in Mental Health Counseling
Program Evaluation Plan Part 1: The Clinical Program
Depression is among the mental health problems that affect a considerable proportion of not only the population of our state but the global population too. Over the past, several interventions at the national level have been embraced to fight against depression, and little success has been reported. This implies that other interventions such as the use of local approaches at the community level can be effective in promoting the health of those with depression and reducing its incidences. Therefore, this essay is an evaluation of mental health program that was adopted in community X to fight against depression by promoting the health of its victims and the vulnerable. The report starts by providing an overview of the program, and then focuses on other areas that include literature review, model of program evaluation, needs assessment, and ethical and evaluation standards that should be considered during the process.
[Behavioral Health Optimization Program]
Behavioral Health Optimization Program is a program that was adopted by community X to fight against depression among its population. Over the past, the population of people affected by depression in the community has increased considerably in the region. Despite the availability of government initiatives, most of the affected do not utilize their services since they comprise majorly of the elderly population that do not have insurance cover. Due to these challenges, the community recognized the need for it to come up with a program that would meet the needs of the elderly without many challenges. In this case, the services are provided for free by trained counselors and psychologists who visit the center on daily basis. The vision of the program is to improve the health and the overall wellbeing of the people of community X by providing them with supportive care that meets their needs. The mission of the program is to provide high quality, affordable, and accessible mental health counseling services to the people of community X suffering from or at a risk of depression. Initially, the program targeted the elderly population that is affected by depression in Community X. However, with time, a new trend where people from other ages are affected by depression has been reported in the past. Therefore, the program now provides services to the whole population of Community X irrespective of their age. The short-term goal of the program is to reduce the current incidence rate of depression in Community X from 8% to about 3% by the end of next year. The long-term goal is to eliminate depression in Community X and empower the community members on behavioral approaches that can be adopted to eliminate and prevent depression. Another long-term goal of the program is to create effective referral system between the healthcare institutions and the program for effective and management of conditions that cannot be managed by the counselors running the program. Through this, the program managers aim to strengthen active collaboration between professionals for the health of the people of this community. The stakeholders of this program are varied. The primary stakeholders are the people of Community X whom the services provided targets. The other stakeholders include the local government, non-governmental organizations, and health institutions in the region, the healthcare providers, counselors, and donor of the program. The results from the evaluation will benefit the people of this region in many ways. As identified earlier, most of the mental health programs adopted in the past at the national level have yielded little impact on the people of the state. Therefore, the results from this evaluation will be used to determine whether local interventions are the most effective ways the government can use to tackle mental health problems. Affordability of the available healthcare services remains the greatest challenge facing the elderly population affected by depression in the state. Therefore, the outcomes from this program will be used to determine whether providing free mental healthcare services to the elderly will reduce the incidence rate of depression and other mental health programs as well as determining whether this will contribute to the health of the state as a whole. Finally, the outcome for the evaluation will be used for future research on effectiveness of community interventions in promoting mental health of the populations at risk.
According to the WHO, approximately 350 million people globally are suffering from depression. The WHO also ranks depression to be among the leading cause of disability globally and the greatest contributor of global disease burden. Statistically, women are highly vulnerable to becoming victims of depression when compared to men. Depression has extreme outcomes that include mortality due to suicidal ideation among the affected individuals (“WHO | Depression,” n.d.). Despite the existence of effective treatment for depression, only few of the affected can utilize them due to socio-economic challenges that affect most of the affected individuals. Other factors that affect the ability of these individuals to utilize the available treatment options for depression include lack of qualified healthcare providers, inadequacy of the resources, and social stigmatization of those affected by depression (Unützer et al., 2002).
There exists a wide range of treatment approaches that can be used to manage depression. They include the use of psychosocial support in combination with pharmacological management such as the administration of antidepressants. Psychotherapy is also an effective approach to its management since it proves critical in enhancing one’s coping with the symptoms associated with depression (Lecrubier, 2001). Most recently, the use of behavioral approaches in managing depression across all the ages has gained considerable attention globally. According to Compas, Connor-Smith, Saltzman, Thomsen, & Wadsworth (2001), behavioral approaches focus on shaping the lifestyles of those affected by depression. It equips individuals with coping strategies that can be used to manage precipitating factors that cause depression and its associated symptoms. In another analysis, Coyne (1986) found that the use of behavioral approaches facilitate the management of depression by eliminating contributing factors such as low self-esteem, feelings of guilt, and pessimism among those at risk. Moreover, Coyne (1986) asserts that the major contributing factor to depression among the adults and the elderly is the increasing aversive stimulation that is caused by internal hostility. However, with behavioral approaches, this can be eliminated since they promote the reinforcement of positive behaviors that are critical to the mental wellbeing of the vulnerable populations.
The society forms an integral role when it comes to issues related to the management of depression (Nezu & Nezu, 2015). Members of the society can promote mental health of those affected by depression by providing them their needed support. This includes providing them with emotional and social support that helps in eliminating precipitating factors alongside improving their coping with depression. Within behavioral approaches is the increased focus on the need for the inclusion of the society in the management of depression. In this case, the members of the society or family are actively involved in helping the affected meet their needs of daily living alongside living positively with depression with others in the community (Nezu & Nezu, 2015). Through this, the society grows to accept people living with depression and support the social structures that have been put in place to meet their diverse social, emotional, and psychological needs. Therefore, based on these evidences, it is inarguable that the use of behavioral program in Community X will help solve the problem of depression affecting its population.
Program Evaluation Model Selected
Program evaluation refers to determining whether the implemented project delivered its objectives or not. It provides considerable insights into the perceptions of those who were targeted by the program on its significance in solving their critical problems. Through this, project managers understand the challenges they encountered and use them for future improvements in similar or different projects. The evaluation of Behavioral Health Optimization Program will employ the use of participatory-oriented evaluation model. In this model, the focus of evaluation is on those the program served. It aims at involving the stakeholders of the participants who provide critical information that is used to evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented project (Narayan-Parker, 1993). When the stakeholders are involved, information that is acquired is transformed into knowledge that results in sustainability of the project.
In relation to our project, the application of this model will demand the involvement of the community members in conducting the evaluation process. The fact that the community is the primary stakeholder translates into the need for their active participation in the process since they are the key beneficiaries. The overall objective of the program was to empower the community members on issues related to prevention and management of depression. Therefore, it is inarguable that involving them in the process will contribute to their empowerment, therefore, program sustainability. The process of evaluation will incorporate the use of questionnaires and interviews to acquire the information needed (Lodico, Spaulding, & Voegtle, 2010). The findings will be communicated to all the stakeholders that were involved in the project implementation to evaluation.
Needs assessment also forms part of the project evaluation process. According to Gupta (2011), needs assessment facilitates the identification of gaps existing in the present conditions and the expected wants. The differences between the current and expected needs should be determined effectively to identify the needs of the society. In relation to the program evaluation, needs assessment will take into consideration the use of a wide range of approaches for the identification of the most essential needs of the community. Tools of needs assessment that would be used include conducting focus groups, interviewing community members, organizing community meetings, and using surveys. Focused groups will entail interviewing a small group of community members to acquire specific thoughts concerning their needs and aspects that should be embraced. Interviews will aid in the acquisition of in-depth information regarding the significance of the program. Community meetings will be organized for the members to share concerns about their most critical needs and the ways in which the program has addressed or failed to address them. The questions I would be seeking to acquire answers during this process include “what are the most critical needs of the society? What challenges to people with depression experience? Has the programs adopted in the past been successful in solving these challenges? And what are the solutions that the community members wish to be adopted for the elimination of their problems?” The content of the questionnaires will be specific to the needs of the people suffering from depression. Careful criteria for selecting participants will be adopted to ensure that the acquire information regarding needs of the community is accurate as possible. The questions asked in the questionnaire will also be diverse and culturally sensitive to ensure that the acquired information is the general view of all the community members. Through these, it is inarguable that the most critical needs of the members of the society will be identified and efforts aiming at their elimination adopted for the health and wellbeing of the society as a whole.
Ethical and Evaluation Standards
Ethics and professional standards guide the process of project evaluation. They provide the guidelines that the individuals involved in the evaluation should follow. In this case, they regulate the behaviors of the stakeholders that are involved in the project evaluation. There exists several ethical and evaluation standards that those involved in the evaluation process should consider. Among the ethics that should be considered as proposed by Morris (2008) include seeking consent from the participants and ensuring privacy and confidentiality of the information and identity of the participants. The participants should be made to understand that their decision to take part in the evaluation is voluntary and are obliged to decline. Moreover, the information they provide and their identity should be kept confidential. Respect should also be upheld. In this sense, those administering the questionnaires or interviewing the participants should respect their views.
Besides ethics, evaluation standards should also be upheld. This includes standards such as utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy. Utility focuses on ensuring that the evaluation will serve the needs of the targeted users. Feasibility entails ensuring that evaluation is realistic, diplomatic, prudent, and frugal. Propriety ensures that the evaluation is conducted with a consideration of the ethical and legal provisions of the state. Accuracy demands that evaluation should reveal as well as convey technically sufficient information concerning the features that make the program worthy or not (Morris, 2008).