PROFESSIONAL mental health personnel who are starting to man the plethora of new Community Mental Health Centers do not even have to venture out into the neighborhood to run into a new breed, a new actor on the mental health stage, who goes by the unwieldy title "indigenous nonprofessional." The realization is now spreading that this role itself and the effect of their work on the community have far-reaching mental health implications. This paper will attempt to spell out this role and the conflicts inherent in it, so that the mental health professionals might be able to arrive at a more fruitful collaboration.
Nonprofessionals are beginning to be used in various treatment and preventive roles in mental health programs. Although their roles might be different than those of the nonprofessionals described in this paper, many of their conflicts will be the same. The pathological effects of