More then 30 Mental Health and MHPSS Manuals for Non-Specialized Settings

Attention: Due to time constraints, I was forced to stop updating this list by the end of 2016. The information will be outdated soon. Sorry, I hope you will find your information elsewhere on the internet.

In low resource settings general health workers and lay people will provide a large part of the mental health care. This list starts with a couple of links to free downloads and (not free) hard copies of interventions/program manuals for general mental health care. Then a few in the MHPSS field (Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support). And the last few manuals are focused on care for children.
This is where I stumbled on in the last few years. If you have any addition please comment on this blog or mail me ( I will try to keep this list as complete and up to date as possible.

1. The WHO mhGAP Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG):
Full title: ‘Mental Health Gap Action Programme Intervention Guide for mental, neurological and substance use disorders in non-specialized health settings’ (2010).
This is a 109 pages decision tree manual for depression, psychosis, bipolar disorders, epilepsy, developmental and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents, dementia, alcohol use disorders, drug use disorders, self-harm/suicide and other significant emotional or medically unexplained complaints. It contains also a chapter on ‘general principles of care’ and a brief chapter on ‘advanced psychological interventions’. A additional chapter on ‘Assessment and Management of Conditions Specifically Related to Stress’ is released in 2013.
This manual will be used in a lot of settings and countries worldwide and training material for this guide is currently being developed and tested.
Free downloads of the 2010 manual are available in English, French and Spanish, and the WHO is working on other translations. You can download the the 2013 extra module on ‘Assessment and Management of Conditions Specifically Related to Stress’ here.
You can order a hard copy of this 2010 manual in English, French and Spanish via the WHO bookshop for $24,- ($16.80 for people in developing countries).

2. Where There is no Psychiatrist and Where There Is No Child Psychiatrist:
Both highly recommended books, but both no open access. This means that you can’t download the material and have to order the hard copy by the publisher the Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK, or other bookstore. There is some pressure on the RCP to make access for free, but still without results.
‘Where There is no Psychiatrist’ is issued in 2003, costs £8.00 (about $12) contains 266 pages with a lot of illustrations, case studies, boxes and tables. It the book describes more than 30 clinical problems associated with mental illness and uses a problem-solving approach. The language is simple without much jargon.
‘Where There is No Child Psychiatrist, a mental healthcare manual’ is issued 2012, costs £10.00 (about $15) and has the same approach. It contains 214 pages and gives an overview of the various developmental, behavioral and emotional problems of children. For each problem it first provides a case study and then describes how to find out more about a child with this problem. It suggests what can be done to help the child and their family. It also examines the mental health aspects of childhood maltreatment and exposure to natural or man-made disasters.

3. book Global Mental Health, Principles and Practice:
New York, Oxford University Press, edited by Vikram Patel, Harry Minas, Alex Cohen, and Martin Prince, 30 different authors from over the world, 20 chapters, 480 pages, price: £38.99 ($68). I’m afraid the content will not be online free of charge.
Textbook about the history of the global mental health field, the scientific foundations and it’s practice, and the current developments and knowledge.
The language and content is geared towards a wide audience, including people without a formal education in this field.

4. Neurology in Africa, free online book:
This practical neurology textbook is specifically written for Sub-Saharan Africa by Dr. William Howlett and issued in September 2012. It covers all the main neurological disorders in 20 chapters. It has chapters on the history, localization, public health and useful websites as well.
You can download the whole text book in once (50MB) or separate chapters.

5. Mental Health Care in Settings Where Mental Health Resources are Limited’ Free online book:
This online book is issued in 2014, 261 pages and written by Pamela Smith MD. It’s an ‘Easy-Reference guidebook for Healthcare Providers in Developed and Developing Countries’. The guide is not a substitute for comprehensive psychiatry, psychology, or other related mental health texts but is meant to be a concise, quick reference guide
providing an outline of core concepts and basic interventions in mental health care.
Part 1 is Mental health Worldwide, part 2: Mental Health Capacity Building: increasing access to care through integration and collaboration, part 3: Mental Health Conditions and Issues: identification and interventions, including counseling interventions, a medication guide, a chapter on HIV, children, maternal health and Gender-Based Violence in Insecure Settings. Very easy to read and to use guide.

6. Hesperian Health Guides:
In the Hesperian bookstore you find free downloads of a couple of health care guides in 80 different languages including ‘Where Women have No Doctor’. This book offers an 23 pages mental health care chapter with a lot of illustrations and attention for self help and community care. Other chapters in this book can be relevant as well.
Other free downloads of Hesperian books: ‘Disabled Village Children’, ‘HIV, Health and Your Community’ and the ‘famous one’ ‘Where there is no Doctor’. The latter does not have a mental health chapter yet, but such a chapter is in the pipeline (mail correspondence with the editors).

7. Basic Needs books and manuals:
The international NGO Basic Needs offers 5 downloads of books like ‘Mental Health and Development: A Model in Practice’, ‘Community Mental Health Practice, Seven Essential Features for Scaling Up in Low and Middle Income Countries’, ‘Charting an Economic Revival for People with Mental Illness and Epilepsy’, and manuals like ‘Essential Skills for mental health care’, ‘Mental Health Care, An Introductory Manual for Training General Health Personnel’, and ‘An Introduction to Mental Health – Facilitator’s Manual for Training Community Health Workers in India’.
Basic Needs is working in a lot of low resource countries, using the ‘Model for Mental Health and Development’, which means that they help mentally ill people start to earn a living after they have been given access to regular, community-based treatment. They also work with communities to overcome stigma and abuse.

8. Sangath India Training manuals:
Sangath is a NGO in Goa, India, dedicated to improve access to health care for children with developmental disabilities, adolescents and young people, or people with any form of mental disorder. Their strategy has been to use relatively low-cost human resources or existing human resources, by empowering them with knowledge and providing them support from more specialized staff.
Although they offer a very nice and divers list of cheap and very useful books, their material is not online and if you can order the books overseas is not clear from the website.
Few examples of titles: ‘A Physician’s Guide to Medically Unexplained Symptoms’, ‘Helping a Child with Learning Difficulties’, ‘Autism – Hope and Help’, ‘Barefoot Counseling’, etc.

9. WFMH Mental Illness and Suicide, a Family Guide to Facing and Reducing the Risks:
These documents have been developed in 2010 by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) as an adjunct to the WFMH World Mental Health Day theme for 2006 and its monograph in 2007.
The focus is on the Families/Caregivers of those with psychiatric disorders. The objective was to help make families aware of the higher risk that the mentally ill face for suicide and to give them skills that might help. There is a 62 pages Guidebook for general audiences in English and in Spanish, and a 26 pages Facilitators Handbook in English and in Spanish for conducting workshops based on the Guide.

10. Thinking Healthy: a WHO manual for psychosocial management of perinatal depression:
WHO has now published this 179 pages (free download) generic field-test version of Thinking Healthy: A manual for psychosocial management of perinatal depression. This new publication is the first of a new World Health Organization (WHO)​ series on low-intensity psychological interventions.
The manual outlines an evidence-based approach describing how community health workers can reduce prenatal depression through evidence-based cognitive-behavioural techniques recommended by the mhGAP programme.
Atif Rahman (University of Liverpool & Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, UK; Human Development Research Foundation, Pakistan) is the author of the original Thinking Healthy Manual. He also prepared the first draft of this current WHO generic field-trial version for global use, which was adapted by WHO secretariat under the leadership of Taghi Yasamy.

11.The WTF/ICPH Manual for the Multi Family Approach (MFA):
In 2014, War Trauma Foundation (WTF) in collaboration with the Palestinian Institute of Community and Public Health (ICPH) of Birzeit University developed this 184 pages (free download) manual for the Multi Family Approach (MFA). This manual is for organizations, trainers and Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) social workers who are using the MFA in the Westbank or in other similar areas.
The manual is created by combining WTF knowledge and local knowledge and practices. They made the Multi Family Approach applicable to the Westbank and the Middle East.
The manual consists of three parts: -A manual for organizations, detailing the MFA method. -A manual for trainers, adjusting the MFA method to the local cultural context. -A manual for social workers and facilitators, depicting best practices and lessons learned.

12. WHO Guidelines on conditions specifically related to stress:
These WHO mhGAP guidelines were developed in 2013 to provide recommended management strategies for conditions specifically related to stress, including symptoms of acute stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and bereavement. It’s a 273 pages pdf, free download.
Using the new protocol, which is co-published with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), primary health-care workers can offer basic psychosocial support to refugees as well as people exposed to trauma or loss in other situations. Types of support offered can include psychological first aid, stress management and helping affected people to identify and strengthen positive coping methods and social supports.

13. Psychological First Aid: Guide for field workers:
For immediate psychosocial support in humanitarian settings this WHO/World Vision/War Trauma Foundation publication (2011) is very helpful. Free downloads in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Spanish. Or order a hard copy in the WHO book shop for $12 in English, French and Spanish (people in developing countries $8,40).
It contains 60 pages and lots of illustrations, boxes and a 2 page ‘pocket guide’.
This manual covers psychological first aid which involves humane, supportive and practical help to fellow human beings suffering serious crisis events. It is written for people in a position to help others who have experienced an extremely distressing event. Endorsed by many international agencies, the guide reflects the emerging science and international consensus on how to support people in the immediate aftermath of extremely stressful events.
In 2014 the same 3 organization together (World Vision International, WHO and War Trauma Foundation) issued the Psychological first aid Facilitator’s manual for orienting field workers, a 88 pages free download PDF via the, and 67 accompanying slides in PDF.

14. WHO/UNHCR mhGAP Humanitarian Intervention Guide (mhGAP-HIG):
The mhGAP Humanitarian Intervention Guide contains first-line management recommendations for mental, neurological and substance use conditions for non-specialist health-care providers in humanitarian emergencies where access to specialists and treatment options is limited. It is a simple, practical tool that aims to support general health facilities in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies in assessing and managing acute stress, grief, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, epilepsy, intellectual disability, harmful substance use and risk of suicide.
Issued in 2015 and 58 pages free download, available in English.
This new tool is an adaptation of WHO’s mhGAP Intervention Guide, a widely-used evidence-based manual for the management of these conditions in non-specialized health settings (see number 1 in this list).

15. WHO/IASC Guidelines for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings:
This manual (2007) reflects the insights of numerous agencies and practitioners worldwide, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC). It has 205 pages and free downloads are available in 7 languages. The manual has been distributed on CDrom and hard copy as well, but I could not find where to order them (yes, one second hand hard copy in the Amazon store for $36).
The manual consists of specific action sheets which offer useful guidance on mental health and psychosocial support, and cover the following areas: Coordination, Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation, Protection and Human Rights Standards, Human Resources, Community Mobilization and Support, Health Services, Education, Dissemination of Information, Food Security and Nutrition, Shelter and Site Planning and Water and Sanitation. Lot of text and no illustrations which makes this manual a bit tiresome. That’s maybe why the WHO and IASC published a 31 pages overview of essential knowledge of the 2007 manual in 2010, in 7 languages.

16. WHO The Problem Management Plus (PM+) for adults impaired by distress in communities who are exposed to adversity, pdf:
This manual (free download, 140 pages) describes a low-intensity psychological intervention called Problem Management Plus (PM+)for adults impaired by distress in communities who are exposed to adversity. Aspects of CBT have been changed to make them feasible in communities that do not have many specialists. To ensure maximum use, the intervention is developed in such a way that it can help people with depression, anxiety and stress, whether or not exposure to adversity has caused these problems. It can be applied to improve aspects of mental health and psychosocial well-being no matter how severe people’s problems are.
The value of PM+ has been confirmed through independent randomized controlled trials in Pakistan and Kenya.
The WHO is currently (2016) working on a ehealth version of this manual.
The PM+ manual is a reference manual to be used with training and under supervision. It includes an Intervention Protocol (Appendix G) that guides helpers on how to carry out each session. The manual includes detailed descriptions of each strategy and how you can best introduce them to your client. However, reading the manual is not enough to learn the strategies. The only way of learning how to be a helper using this manual is through practical training and supervision.

17. UNHCR Operational Guidance Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Programming for Refugee Operations, pdf:
This 88 pages manual is intended to provide support for UNHCR country programmes to advocate for and facilitate access to quality mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for refugees. This operational guidance aims to do this through: -Building a common understanding among UNHCR and partners about MHPSS interventions and their importance for the health and non-health sectors, -Providing guidance on how to use an MHPSS approach
throughout the operations, -Providing practical guidance on how to design MHPSS interventions
within a multileveled system of care that enhances existing capacities.
The focus of this operational guidance is on refugees and asylum seekers, but it may apply
to other persons of concern within UNHCR operations such as stateless persons, internally
displaced persons and returnees.

18. Trauma and Recovery on War’s Border: A Guide for Global Health Workers:
A guide for mental health workers in regions traumatized by war, human rights violations, and poverty across the globe. By Kathleen Allden, Nancy Murakami, a.o. This book, based on the experiences of the co-editors and their colleagues at Burma Border Projects (BBP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mental health and psychosocial well-being of the displaced people of Burma, sets out global mental health theory allied with local perspectives, experiences, real-life challenges, strengths, and best practices. Topics include assessment and intervention protocols, vulnerable groups and the special challenges they present, and supervision and evaluation programs.
The ebook is now available for $29.03 (e.g. via The hard cover will be available from April 2015, 344 pages.

19. Community Based Psychosocial Services in Humanitarian Assistance, A Facilitator’s Guide, Network of Action by Churches Together and others:
This 250 pages practical guide in written in 2005 by field workers from the Lutherahjalpen/Church of Sweden: Norwegian Church Aid and Presbyterian Disasters Assistance and the Network of Action by Churches Together (ACT).
Every chapter starts with an introduction to the topic and is in most cases followed by a toolbox. The toolbox presents clear examples and ideas on how to apply in practice what is dealt with in the chapter.
Point of departure in this guide: ‘Psychosocial service is not about individual therapy, it’s the work we do when we assist affected communities in their collective recovery’. So, you will find lots of community based tools here.

20. The IFRC manuals on Community-based psychosocial support and counseling:
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support (PS Centre of the IFRC) offers several manuals in the area of psychosocial support.
Together with Save the Children they issued the Children’s Resilience Program in 2012. It’s available in English and french online in PDF-format and in hard copy. It consists of four booklets and an Activity Bank on a USB-stick.
And the PS centre offers a Community-based Psychosocial Support training kit (2009) in several languages. You can download the Trainer’s book (134 pages), a Participant’s book (116 pages) and they offer a CDrom with the material as well. PowerPoint slides and a template (for you to create your own slides) are online too. Topics are for instance stress and coping, loss and grief, psychological first aid, children, supporting volunteers and staff, etc. By using examples, colors and boxes, the IFRC made the material attractive for the users.
In 2013 the PS Centre, together with three European partners, have developed a training manual for lay counselors as well: ‘Lay counseling: A Trainer’s Manual’, which sets out the role and responsibilities of lay counselors and the organization within which they work. The manual outlines a two-day training curriculum and consists of a variety of didactic methods. The manual, with several supplements like a powerpoint, activities and hand-outs, is available in English, French, German and Danish.
In 2014 the IFRC psychosocial support centre issued the manual ‘Life Skills’ on psychosocial life skills in humanitarian action, free download.

21. IFRC Psychosocial Support Moving Together Handbook, psychosocial well-being through sport and physical activity:
‘Moving Together’ (promoting psychosocial well-being through sport and physical activity) is a 148 pages handbook for experts and practitioners in sociology, psychology, social work, sport and physical education to enable them to deliver psychosocial support programmes in crisis situations. Well-designed sport activities offer a safe and friendly space for expressing and addressing problems and fears and help participants gain confidence, resilience, coping skills and hope.
The handbook explains the theoretical framework for sport and physical activities in psychosocial support interventions, and how to implement them from assessment to exit strategy. It includes activity cards that can be adapted to suit different situations.
One can download Moving Together, or purchase a hard copy by contacting the PS Centre on

22. Intervention Journal Online Manuals:
Intervention is a ‘International Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial Work and Counseling in Areas of Armed Conflict’. Alongside it’s regular numbers it’s issued a couple of free available manuals. Examples are ‘Helping Hands at School and in the Community, Guidance for School-Based Psychosocial Programs for Teachers, Parents and Children in Conflict and Post-conflict Areas’ (English), ‘Healing Communities by Strengthening Social Capital: A Narrative Theater Approach. Training facilitators and community workers’ (English/French), ‘On the Road to Peace of Mind, A guidebook. An applied approach to the training of trainers in developing countries affected by emergencies’ (English/Arabic), ‘Training Counselors in Areas of Armed Conflict Within a Community Approach (2003)’ (French and Spanish). You can buy an English version of this last manual in the online bookshop of the Pharos Foundation for €16 (about $21). A free download of this manual is available via via the site.

23. Psychosocial Care Package Children, HealthNet TPO:
For psychosocial support of children the NGO HealthNet TPO offers free downloads of their ‘Psychosocial Care Package Children’ with Modules, Tools and Publications sections. It contains information that describes the rationale, content and step-by-step implementation of the separate components of a comprehensive psychosocial care package (such as a Classroom Based Intervention, Counseling, Clinical Supervision, Screening and Psycho-education). The resources are the result of a project of many years that aimed to develop a comprehensive psychosocial care approach for children in areas affected by armed violence in Burundi, Indonesia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, funded by PLAN Netherlands and developed and implemented by HealthNet TPO.
It’s an online resource and when you click on a module, or other component, it opens in a Word document.

24. REPSSI Manuals and Tools:
The REPSSI ‘Psychosocial Wellbeing for All Children’ is a NGO based in South Africa and working to lessen the devastating social and emotional (psychosocial) impact of poverty, conflict, HIV and AIDS among children and youth across East and Southern Africa. They have produced a range of user-friendly manuals and guidelines on social and emotional (psychosocial) wellbeing of children and a couple of them are free online. For printed copies you have to pay between $7 and $100. You can download a list with all their training resources, their availability and prices.
The different REPSSI publications are aimed at different levels of audience or user, such as community workers, teachers, health workers caregivers, parents, youth and children, and specialized psychosocial professionals. A few of their manuals are only available for people who followed one of their training courses.

25. The Children and War Foundation manuals:
The Children and War Foundation was established based on a need for simple screening measures and evidence-based interventions for traumatized children after war and disaster situations. Since 2000, the Foundation has developed several screening measures, manuals, trained more than 400 intervenors and supported research projects that evaluate our treatment tools.
So far, the Foundation has two manuals: the Teaching Recovery Techniques (TRT in two versions: war and disaster, in Arabic Bahasa Malaysian, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, available by emailing, and Writing for Recovery (for adolescents) Manual, free download. The Foundation is developing and piloting a Grief Manual for children as well (not yet available).
These manuals are designed to be delivered by personnel who are not necessarily very experienced in child mental health, although the Children and War Foundation strongly advises that people using the manuals should have some training in them beforehand.
To ensure these manuals are effective and evidence-based, the Foundation supports projects that evaluate the manuals and they urge those who use their material to send their outcome to them.

26. IACAPAP online Textbook of Child and Adolescent Mental Health:
The International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) is a non-governmental organization that advocates for the promotion of mental health and development of children and adolescents through policy, practice and research. It promotes the study, treatment, care and prevention of mental and emotional disorders and disabilities involving children, adolescents and their families.
This open access online textbook contains 10 sections and dozens of chapters following the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV) and is issued in 2012. It has chapters on e.g. e-therapy, emergencies and policies as well. Very up to date information.
It is bulky book and not suitable for downloading and printing at once. But it’s useful as a reference work for study or training. It’s a open-access publication under the ‘Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License’, which means that ‘use, distribution and reproduction in any medium are allowed without prior permission provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial’.

27. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Third edition 2012:
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell, 401 pages, free download), by Robert Goodman and Stephen Scott, was originally titled Child Psychiatry. Each chapter has been designed to present the key facts, concepts and emerging facets of the area, drawing on clinical experience as well as the latest research findings. These guiding principles are followed in the third edition, which has been updated to reflect the varied advances in research and clinical practice that inform the subject.
The book is structured into four main parts: first, an introductory section on assessment, classification and epidemiology; second, a section covering each of the main specific disorders and presentations; third, a section on the major risk factors predisposing to child psychiatric disorders; and fourth, a section on the main methods of treatment, covering also prevention, service organization and interpersonal and family therapies as well as fostering and adoption.

Roos Korste, psychologist, trainer, blogger

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  • Mahalia  On April 17, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished
    to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  • Dr Olayinka Ayankogbe  On August 3, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Fantastic website full of information for any non-psychiatrist who wants to help the mentally ill

    • in2mentalhealth  On August 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks for the compliment! Roos

      • Dr Olayinka Ayankogbe  On August 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm

        You are welcome Roos. Will surely use the books and manuals. But the real problem is the hoarding of drugs by the psychiatrists especially in facilities attached to teaching hospitals here in Nigeria. What is your suggestion on overcoming such a challenge?

        • in2mentalhealth  On August 6, 2013 at 10:31 am

          Dear Yinka. Yes, with a continues shortage of medication non-specialized health workers can not offer a lot to people with severe mental illness and their families. It seems to me that more pressure from health workers and user/family organizations is one way to go, but I suppose that it is a power issue and politics are involved as well.

          • Dr Olayinka Ayankogbe  On August 6, 2013 at 5:42 pm

            Thanks Roos, I thought as much. You have confirmed my suspicions

  • Jean-Marc Michel  On June 16, 2015 at 5:33 am

    Very useful information. I am trying to get a copy of Where there is no Chikd Psychiatrist into every school in Mauritius where I am supporting development of services for vulnerable children in both NGO and government sectors. Do you know if a new edition is planned? Philip Graham one if the uk based authors to,d me he wanted feed back from people in the field for the next edition…that was over a year ago.

    • in2mentalhealth  On June 16, 2015 at 6:55 am

      Dear Jean-Marc. I’ve no idea about a new edition. I think you have to check the authors again.
      Good luck with your valuable work in Mauritius.


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