A neglected issue:
Fulbright scholar works to raise awareness about mental health treatment
In late 2010, Thomas Barrett received a Fulbright grant to teach at the University of Zagreb and to conduct research on mental health services in Croatia. Barrett, a clinical professor in DU’s International Disaster Psychology Program in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, hopes his work will improve mental health treatment and raise global awareness of its importance.
“According to the World Health Organization, the burden of disease for mental disorders is greater than any other category of illness, including cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS,” Barrett said. “I am hopeful that some of the students at the University of Zagreb will be interested in providing mental health services to other countries in order to address this much neglected issue.”
Thanks to his Fulbright, Barrett spent four months in Croatia, where he found a mental health system at a critical turning point.
“Like many countries, Croatia has a large number of people with mental disorders in hospitals. There are many mental health professionals in Croatia, but there are few mental health services for people with serious mental disorders in the community,” he said.
In addition to his work on Croatia, Barrett is co-authoring a textbook with DU accounting Professor James Sorensen on how to evaluate the effectiveness of mental health services in the United States and elsewhere.
“Program evaluation is so important because some mental health services are continued for years without being evaluated,” he said. “Sometimes these services are ineffective or inefficient. Program evaluation is necessary to ensure that the services are efficient and that they are actually helping people.”