S73: The challenges of identifying and measuring the impacts of mental health interventions.

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By September 26, 2017 No Comments

Authors: Lee Martinez, Kuda Muyambi, Bruce Gurd, Martin Jones

Year: 2017

Event: 2017 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Community, Culture, Society,Research & Evaluation Informing Practice

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: The variety of methods for measuring the impact of mental health interventions rely on understanding the flow of “causation” from the intervention to the social improvement. Whether the measurement is based on cost/benefit or social return on investment there is an underlying logic of change in a theory of change, solution tree or logframe which connects activities to outputs to outcomes to impacts. Mapping the connections between an intervention and social improvement is tenuous, especially in the short-run.

Using a case study of an evaluation of mental health rehabilitation units in rural South Australia, we analyse the problems of measuring the benefits of such interventions, including the broader social impacts. Central to the problem is identifying the short, medium and longer term benefits and rigorously measuring them. As many benefits are longer-term this can usually only be done by reference to other implementations. It is more defensible to stop at the outcomes stage and work in qualitative terms; but this does not meet the needs of funders. We include issues relating to identification of stakeholders and the counterfactuals.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: The audience will become more aware of the approaches to measuring social impacts including Social Return on Investment and the issues in moving from outcomes to impact.

Learning Objective 2: An audience interested in mental health issues will be challenged to evaluate the interventions in more structured and potentially more useful ways.

Banke-Thomas, A. O., B. Madaj, A. Charles and N. van den Broek (2015). "Social return on investment (SROI) methodology to account for value for money public health interventions: a systematic review." BMC Public Health, 15(582).
Kay, A. and P. Baker (2015). "What can causal process tracing offer to policy studies? A review of the literature." Policy Studies Journal 43(1).

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