Scaling up and scaling deep

  • July 2, 2019
July 2, 2019

Scaling up and scaling deep

Photo: Colombian Red Cross, STRENGTHS Project.

People across the globe experience psychological and psychosocial suffering and do not have the access to the comprehensive quality mental health services that they should. In some low-income countries there are almost no psychiatrist or psychologist. As a result, there are great, unmet needs. Scalable psychological interventions are developed by WHO for use in settings affected by adversity. They are based on well-tested techniques, but not yet fully tested and proven.

Through research, the PS Centre investigates how the interventions can be applied by the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to address general psychosocial ill-being and to alleviate, treat and prevent common mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

The PS Centre participates in three research projects to enable task shifting and scaling up:

  • STRENGTHS researches the Problem Management+ interventions and tools for adapting the interventions culturally, contextually. With this expertise National Societies can tailor the scalable interventions to local settings and thereby provide quality, research based MHPSS services.
  • In the CONTEXT project Colombian Red Cross volunteers deliver Problem Management+ to refugees. We evaluate the effectiveness of this delivery and design a protocol for the purpose. This provides an understanding of how task shifting for MHPSS within the Movement can work.
  • The RE-DEFINE project seeks to provide evidence for SelfHelp+, a preventative, psychosocial intervention for people affected by humanitarian emergencies. The intervention is likely to be highly scalable and well-suited as a Movement service.


  • STRENGTHS and RE-DEFINE have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme Societal Challenges under Grant Agreements No 733337 and 779255 respectively.
  • CONTEXT has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 722523.