To better understand and meet the mental health needs of people in the Mae Sot community, BBP took on the responsibility of managing the research of the Mental Health Assessment Project (MHAP) that began in 2010 and ended in 2012. MHAP was a collaborative research project led by Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, under an award by the USAID Victims of Torture Fund, and carried out in partnership with local organizations: Mae Tao Clinic, Burma Border Projects, Social Action for Women, and the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Counselor-at-BBP-office-300x200This groundbreaking research aims to improve mental health services to survivors of torture and trauma, while documenting experiences and data, in order to assist other organizations and generally advance the care of torture survivors in low-resource environments in particular. MHAP uses a stepwise approach to evaluating the impact of interventions by psychosocial programs-an approach originally developed by Johns Hopkins faculty at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Referred to simply as “DIME,” this approach consists of program Design, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation. The objective is to employ evidence-based approaches to ascertain the needs of survivors of torture, then use this information to design programs that assess needs and better identify those who could benefit from mental health services, monitor implementation for feasibility and quality, and determine the ultimate impact of the programs.

The Mae Sot MHAP was part of a global multi-site project by Johns Hopkins University; other sites include the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq. Across every site, the research purpose is the same: to understand the mental health needs of the people in that community, and design and implement an intervention that will meet those needs. Because many sites around the world lack the resources for formal mental health professionals and psychiatric clinics, this project ultimately seeks to develop and test interventions that can be delivered at the community level.

BBP was responsible for the overall management of the project in the field – administration, finances, and logistics. This meant that BBP facilitated exchanges between technical leads (Johns Hopkins University) and partner organizations carrying out the work (Mae Tao Clinic, Social Action for Women, and the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners). BBP also participated in the development and implementation of the selected intervention, in addition to the monitoring of project implementation and documentation.