A study published in April 2021 found that eCPR may increase feelings of belonging while increasing supportive behaviors toward individuals with mental health problems and improving clinical outcomes related to positive and negative affect and feelings of loneliness. Statistically significant pre-post improvements were found related to one’s ability to identify emotions, support others in distress, communicate nonverbally, share emotions, and take care of oneself, as well as to one’s feelings of social connectedness, self-perceived flourishing, and positive affect. Findings indicated promising evidence of pre-post improvements (not statistically significant) related to loneliness, empowerment, active-empathetic listening, mindfulness awareness, and hope.

Feasibility and Preliminary Effectiveness of a Peer-Developed and Virtually Delivered Community Mental Health Training Program (Emotional CPR): Pre-Post Study

Amanda L. Myers, MPH; Caroline Collins-Pisano; Joelle C. Ferron, MSW; PhD, Karen L. Fortuna, PhD, LICSW

To access the full-text publication, visit: https://jopm.jmir.org/2021/1/e25867

Background:

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a global mental health crisis, highlighting the need for a focus on community-wide mental health. Emotional CPR (eCPR) is a program and practice developed by persons with lived experience of recovery from trauma or mental health challenges to train community members from diverse backgrounds to support others in the community through mental health crises.

Study Objective:

This study examined the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of the delivery of eCPR trainings in a digital environment.

Methods:

  • 560 individuals, including peer support specialists, service users, clinicians, family members, and nonprofit leaders, who participated in virtual eCPR trainings between April 20, 2020, and July 31, 2020.
  • Of the 560 participants, 151 individuals responded to both pre- and post-training surveys.
  • The administered surveys included the Herth Hope Scale; Empowerment Scale; Flourishing Scale (perceived capacity to support individuals); Mindful Attention Awareness Scale; Active-Empathic Listening Scale (supportive behaviors toward individuals with mental health challenges); Social Connectedness Scale (feelings of belonging and connection with others); Positive and Negative Affect Schedule; and UCLA 3-item Loneliness Scale (symptoms and emotions). Additionally, the eCPR fidelity scale was used to determine the feasibility of delivering eCPR with fidelity.
  • We examined post-training improvements related to each scale and identified pre-post training differences by role.

Research Findings:

  • It is feasible for people with lived experience of a mental health condition to develop a program and train people to deliver eCPR with fidelity.
  • Statistically significant pre-post improvements were found related to one’s ability to identify emotions, support others in distress, communicate nonverbally, share emotions, and take care of oneself, as well as to one’s feelings of social connectedness, self-perceived flourishing, and positive affect.
  • Findings indicated promising evidence of pre-post improvements (not statistically significant) related to loneliness, empowerment, active-empathetic listening, mindfulness awareness, and hope.
  • Nonprofit leaders and workers demonstrated the greatest improvements related to loneliness, social connectedness, empathic listening, and flourishing.
    Peer support specialists demonstrated the greatest improvements related to positive affect.
  • Clinicians demonstrated the greatest improvements related to mindfulness awareness.

Conclusions:

Promising evidence indicates that eCPR, a peer-developed and peer-delivered program, may increase feelings of belonging while increasing supportive behaviors toward individuals with mental health problems and improving clinical outcomes related to positive and negative affect and feelings of loneliness.

Future Recommendations:

  • Examine the impact of the training on whether participants exhibit these reported changes in everyday practice with others in their community, clinical practice, and social circles.
  • Examine the impacts of increased levels of hope, positive affect, flourishing, and decreased loneliness on the daily life of eCPR training participants.