People seeking mental healthcare increases six-fold in a pilot programme

January 05, 2017 09:23 am | Updated 09:23 am IST - CHENNAI

The proportion of people with depression who sought care increased six-fold from 4.3 to 27.2 per cent in 30 villages in the Amravati district of Vidarbha. The proportion of people who accessed mental healthcare was the same across sex (53 per cent males and 47 per cent females), education, income and religion. As a result, the prevalence of depression among nearly 1,900 participants dropped from 14·6 to 11·3 per cent during this period. The results were published on January 5 in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry .

The prevalence of suicidal thoughts reduced by about 50 per cent — from 5.2 to 2.5 per cent. The actual reduction in the prevalence of suicidal thoughts was only small and was not the primary objective of the intervention, says Prof. Vikram Patel from the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Delhi and the senior author of the paper.

The Vidarbha region has witnessed a large number of suicides in recent years. While other benefits have been extended to people in the region, access to mental care has not been provided. The intervention was carried out by VISHRAM (the Vidarbha Stress and Health ProgRAM), a grass-root community mental health program that has been designed to address the mental health risk factors for suicide (depression and alcohol use disorders).

There were just eight counsellors providing advanced psychosocial care and 39 community workers who helped increase awareness about mental health in the 30 villages. A baseline survey was conducted on nearly 1,500 participants who were randomly selected and another survey was carried out on nearly 1,900 randomly chosen people at the end of 18 months.

“The pilot study has shown that the programme can be expanded to cover the entire State,” says Dr. Rahul Shidhaye. “A similar approach pilot tested in one district in Madhya Pradesh under PRIME (programme for improving mental health care) was scaled up last year to cover the entire State.”

In India, 2-3 per cent (13 million people) adults suffer from depression. Yet, only about 4.3 per cent access mental care and nearly 90 per cent do not.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.