Setiyawati, D., Blashki, G., Wraith, R., Colucci, E., & Minas, H. (2014). Australian experts' perspectives on a curriculum for psychologists working in primary health care: implication for Indonesia. Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, 2(1), 970-982. doi: 10.1080/21642850.2014.951937
In Indonesia there is a pressing need to scale up mental health services due to a substantial unmet need for mental health care. Integrating psychologists into primary health care can potentially deliver affordable mental health services to communities and help to close the treatment gap. Australia is one of the pioneers in integrating mental health into primary health care, and the mental health reforms in Australia may have some implications for Indonesia. The aim of this paper is to examine the Australian experience and to reflect in particular on lessons that may be learnt to inform the development of curriculum for psychologists working in primary health care in Indonesia. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 12 Australian experts in primary mental health care. The focus of the interview was on the roles and skills of psychologists working in primary health care with a particular focus on the appropriate curriculum for psychologists. Overall, the Australian experts agreed that psychologists' roles and training should include both clinical skills and public mental health skills. The experts also agreed that psychologists should be able to educate the community about mental health issues and be capable of undertaking research and evaluation of programs. A central theme was the need for strong collaborations with general practitioners and existing agencies in the community so that psychologists are able to make appropriate referrals and also accept referrals. The lessons learnt from the Australian experience, which are most applicable to the Indonesian setting are: (1) the importance of adequate government funding of psychologists; (2) the value of evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; (3) the need to specifically train psychologists for primary care; (4) the need for flexibility in the psychologist workforce (e.g. location); and (5) the value of continuing supervision for psychologists to support them in their role.