Currently submitted to: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Date Submitted: Nov 27, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Nov 27, 2019 - Jan 16, 2020
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
NOTE: This is an unreviewed Preprint
Warning: This is a unreviewed preprint (What is a preprint?). Readers are warned that the document has not been peer-reviewed by expert/patient reviewers or an academic editor, may contain misleading claims, and is likely to undergo changes before final publication, if accepted, or may have been rejected/withdrawn (a note "no longer under consideration" will appear above).
Peer-review me: Readers with interest and expertise are encouraged to sign up as peer-reviewer, if the paper is within an open peer-review period (in this case, a "Peer-Review Me" button to sign up as reviewer is displayed above). All preprints currently open for review are listed here. Outside of the formal open peer-review period we encourage you to tweet about the preprint.
Citation: Please cite this preprint only for review purposes or for grant applications and CVs (if you are the author).
Final version: If our system detects a final peer-reviewed "version of record" (VoR) published in any journal, a link to that VoR will appear below. Readers are then encourage to cite the VoR instead of this preprint.
Settings: If you are the author, you can login and change the preprint display settings, but the preprint URL/DOI is supposed to be stable and citable, so it should not be removed once posted.
Submit: To post your own preprint, simply submit to any JMIR journal, and choose the appropriate settings to expose your submitted version as preprint.
Non-professional peer support to improve mental health: Randomized trial of a scalable web-based peer counseling course
Millions are underserved by the mental health care system. Most mental health problems go untreated because people lack access or are not interested in professional help. Innovative and scalable treatment delivery methods are needed to supplement traditional treatments in order to make mental health support more accessible and more appealing.
This study investigated whether a self-guided web-based course can teach pairs of non-professional peers to deliver psychological support to each other.
Thirty dyads (60 participants; mostly friends), many of whom presented with mild to moderate psychological distress, were randomized to immediate or delayed access to a web-based counseling skills course. Dyads were recorded taking turns discussing stressors before and after training. Participants’ skills in the helper role were assessed before and after taking the course by coding recordings for the presence of specific counseling skills and overall competence. When in the client role, participants rated how helpful they found the session.
The course had large effects on most helper-role speech behaviors: helpers decreased total speaking time, used more restatements, made fewer efforts to influence the speaker, and decreased self-focused and off-topic utterances (ds = 0.8-1.6). On average, helpers met 5 out of 6 competence criteria after completing the course. As clients, participants perceived more progress in addressing their stressors during post-training counseling sessions than during pre-training sessions (d = 1.1).
Results provide proof-of-concept that non-professionals can learn basic counseling skills from a scalable web-based course. The course serves as a promising model for the development of highly scalable, web-based counseling skills training. Such scalable, web-based courses could potentially be used for professional training purposes as well as for reciprocal peer counseling programs that can provide accessible mental health support to those underserved by traditional psychotherapy.
The author of this paper has made a PDF available, but requires the user to login, or create an account.
© The authors. All rights reserved. This is a privileged document currently under peer-review/community review (or an accepted/rejected manuscript). Authors have provided JMIR Publications with an exclusive license to publish this preprint on it's website for review and ahead-of-print citation purposes only. While the final peer-reviewed paper may be licensed under a cc-by license on publication, at this stage authors and publisher expressively prohibit redistribution of this draft paper other than for review purposes.