This Times commentary from Tina Rosenberg profiles the problem and treatment of depression in poor countries like Uganda. A couple of interesting and provocative points emerge: 1) as psychotropic medication is prohibitively expensive in the Third World, the treatment of choice is psychotherapy, which seems to be highly effective; 2) the author implies that much of the treatment is delivered by lay people, not trained mental health professionals.
The former point is a boon for psychology researchers and practitioners who feel that psychotherapy is undervalued in wealthier nations, overshadowed by the influence of powerful drug companies and a culture desiring “quick-fix” solutions to complex problems. The latter point is far more ambiguous — even foreboding — as it echoes an emerging trend in the United States and other developed countries to place more components of clinical practice in the hands of non-professionals. Both of these findings need to be carefully unpacked and examined for their greater implications, validity, and applicability.