This issue brief examines mental health task sharing in the children’s advocacy center (CAC) context and promotes active collaboration between the CAC victim advocate and the child’s therapist, especially in rural areas where the therapist may provide services remotely through telemental health. Several key task-sharing roles are identified that paraprofessionals can fill to expand the delivery and impact of high-quality trauma mental health services in a CAC environment.
Mental health task sharing is delegating select tasks often delivered by a licensed mental health provider to a non-licensed colleague with relevant training to expand the reach and depth of the licensed clinician’s services. Through task sharing, the licensed professional can focus on activities that require advanced skill and licensure (e.g., clinical assessment and therapy) and utilize a paraprofessional partner for tasks that do not require advanced education or licensing (e.g., initial screening, client engagement, case management, and advocacy). This arrangement allows more clients to be served effectively with a limited number of licensed professionals. In a CAC, the victim advocate often serves in a mental health task-sharing role, as the tasks they perform (e.g., providing psychoeducation about the effects of trauma on children and addressing myths, cultural stigma, and other barriers to engaging in therapy) are critical to the family’s engagement in mental health services. For clinicians serving CAC clients in rural areas, especially those providing services under a linkage agreement, coordination with the advocate is critical to ensure the clinician is not working in isolation but as a part of a collaborative mental health team. Task sharing may be particularly useful in rural and frontier CACs that rely on trauma therapists who work a significant distance from the community and provide services via telemental health. When mental health is delivered as part of a collaborative effort, families are more likely to engage in services and therapy is more efficient and impactful.