You raised an important point that seems to me frequently overlooked. This is also one of the reasons why giving career advice is hard - there is limited amount of advice that can be given generally and much of the work is hidden in going through the specific options the advisee has.
One thing that could take this even further is to address how these two - the general cause area and specific individual considerations - play together. Overlooking cause area considerations entirely would be wrong, obviously.
The way I see it is that I should start with general considerations about cause areas and about my skills, which will help me discover where to start looking. Then I can start making the options more specific, starting with the most promising cause area where I have a chance to succeed. If I don't find anything promising, I can dig deeper or move to the second most promising area, etc.
One counterargument to this would be the risk that (if overemphasizing general considerations) I can get exhausted along the way and give up, while focusing more on what seems available and specific can help me find initial success earlier and motivate me to look further.
I wonder what are your thoughts on how the general and specific play together.
Materials on the project are public, but they are in Czech only, unfortunately. I'll send you a private message.
Nice work! I'm not a mental health professional, but you seem to have covered the important topics - what is the scope, what is the burden and prevalence of different subcategories, and what is the state of the mental health care. The report was comprehensible for me and I felt it communicated the main points well.
One thing I was missing is putting the numbers in context - interpreting absolute numbers to get a sense of relative importance can be difficult. For instance, how does the burden of 2 million DALYs compare to the total disease burden in Philippines? How does the percentage of DOH budget or workforce per 100,000 compare to other countries or some other baseline health cause? Or maybe how does it compare to other areas of EA interest? Depending on your audience, contrasting with appropriate baseline or the desired state can be helpful.
If you would like to study this area further, the obvious advice is to talk to professionals that may be familiar with the bottlenecks, low-hanging fruits and such (if you haven't done that already). If you manage to identify some concrete intervention opportunities, it could help you make your results comparable to other opportunities EA Philippines can contribute to (I like Charity Entrepreneurship research process as inspiration).
As it happens, I've recently witnessed a new volunteer mental health project in Czechia and I liked the way they set it up - they reached out to nonprofits working in this area (also to the DOH and some researchers, with somewhat less success) and conducted a lightweight qualitative research. This helped them determine their focus (providing accessible information to young people and teenagers).
I appreciate highlighting the concepts of prioritization and hierarchization and designing hierarchical networked structures (HNSs) seems like a high-leverage activity. I’m not an expert, but it seems to me to be an application of a more general mindset well-known in business: Systems Thinking. It could be a source of further inspiration.
However, I am not clear on how the proposal relates to to title „What to do with people?“. In order to effectively utilize people, one needs suitable positions, therefore I would expect the proposal leads to creation of new ones or connecting people with existing ones. But all the examples are along the lines of „go find a position for yourself where you can apply HNSs“ without necessarily creating any new positions (it can lead to some connecting but it doesn’t seem to be the main point there).
It seems to me that the solution to the original problem is going to require people leading other people and showing them the way. That’s what Teach for America did – quoting Can the EA community copy Teach for America?:
It’s a very clear instruction, and a way that there’s an obvious role for everyone“.
As Moses correctly pointed out, only a small fraction of people is willing to manage themselves or other people.
Therefore, I see the topic of leadership as crucial for solving the people utilization problem. It includes the aforementioned activities like delegation or growing people professionally. Do you see that as an essential ingredient too? Do you think that kind of mindset is represented enough in the EA community?
Encouraging people who are not yet fully engaged in the EA community to build HNSs also seems potentially risky, because it seems like an advanced topic that requires good understanding of the system. On the other hand, if someone assumes a leadership role and thinks about delegating, thinking in terms of HNSs is going to be very important, because there are many possible decompositions with different impact and that needs to be deliberate and well-thought-out.
Hi Khorton, yes, it is a summary from several EA sources (more details are in the linked article).
The main value of the article is in compiling them to be actionable for a small donor: It argues the cause passes the importance/neglectedness/tractability criteria, compares impact and cost-effectiveness with malaria treatment, and suggests a donation recipient (StrongMinds) with discussion of other options.
Hi all, I've been engaged with the local EA community for some time now and I think it's time I can start contributing. I did some personal research for my donation allocation with focus on mental health and summed it up in a post I shared with the local community.
I intended the post about mental health to be practical, from a small donor's perspective, and I think it can be valuable for the broader EA community as well. I don't have enough Karma for full post, therefore I link it from here: Mental Health From the Perspective of a Small Donor in 2018
What do you think about it? Is it the kind of material you would find useful here on EA forum and would you like more posts like these?
Here's an executive summary of the post:
Mental health is an important cause area that very well passes all the importance, neglectedness, and tractability criteria. It has been argued that we should focus on it even more than on some currently popular EA topics, especially if our goal is increasing “happiness” or life satisfaction.
Mental health is the biggest predictor of “misery”, or the bottom 10% in terms of life satisfaction, more than poverty or physical illness. Depression alone affects around 10% of the population globally. Depression and anxiety account for 2.9% of the global DALY burden (malaria accounts for 2.7% and DALYs probably underestimate mental health). It is neglected both by the international donor community and in national health budgets, especially in developing countries.
Solutions to the problem and topics for further research are known. From the perspective of a small donor, the most effective known recipient is StrongMinds. It offers group psychotherapy treatments to women in Africa, its model scales well, and Founders Pledge estimates its effectiveness at $220/DALY.
After the investigation of the cause area, I personally decided to donate some of my resources to StrongMinds this season.
Thanks! I'll keep that as an option and I'll see what's the response after the meeting.