World Health Partners organised a stakeholder consultation on Mental Health in Ahmedabad

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The discussion was held on ‘Integrating Mental Health Services into Primary Health Care’.

  • WHP’s project was implemented in seven districts of Gujarat from June 2021 till December 2022 and key outcomes were shared in the consultation
  • Project shows tele-medicine has been increasingly acknowledged as a viable system to widen access to provide mental health care and support
  • Senior govt. officials including Ms. Remya Mohan, IAS, MD – National Health Mission, Gujarat, Dr. Lavina Sinha, IPS, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone – 1, Ahmedabad, Dr R. R Vaidya, State TB officer and Dr. Ajay Chauhan, State Nodal Officer, Mental Health, participated in the programme.

Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 18:  World Health Partners (WHP), a leading public health organization, shared key learnings and insights from its 18-month long intervention (Comprehensively Addressing Mental Issues during COVID-19 pandemic) on mental health and gender-based violence, across seven districts of Gujarat, on 15th February in a programme in Ahmedabad. The project was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It was implemented with technical support from Hospital for Mental Health, Ahmedabad (HMHA). The program was graced by esteemed dignitaries Ms. Remya Mohan, IAS, MD – National Health Mission, Gujarat, Dr. Lavina Sinha, IPS Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone – 1, Ahmedabad, Dr R. R Vaidya, State TB officer and Dr. Ajay Chauhan, State Nodal Officer, Mental Health.

“When we see so much of a change around, all of a sudden, due to the pandemic, things go for a toss. With innumerable lives lost, job loss, financial insecurity, and losing out on activities and social connections, keeping one’s mental-physical balance becomes hard. These extraordinary challenges also brought us opportunity to work directly with individuals and their family members. Through our intervention we helped unburden their woes, jointly,” said Prachi Shukla, Country Director, World Health Partners. “The project has seen far reaching impact by using people on ground and technology backed call center which screened and counselled more than 80,000 COVID patients in Gujarat. This model can easily be scaled by state governments given its flexibility and use of low-cost technology.”

The project was implemented from June 2021- December 2022 in 07 districts across the state with the objective to provide early screening, referral and social security linkages to COVID-19 and gender-based violence affected individuals and families. These seven districts are: Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Mehsana, Kheda, Patan, Vadodra and Surat.

Key highlights:

  • The project reached out to more than 1,75,000 people in Gujarat using the Patient Health Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4) screening tool to assess their mental health status
  • During the project duration, WHP’s tele-health platform received more than 23,000 calls for mental health support
  • As per the data from WHP’s helpline, 16% COVID-19 patients were identified having mental health issues. It also highlights that 5% family members of COVID-19 patients also reported having mental health issues
  • Anxiety and depression were found to be most prevalent disorders (92%) among COVID-19 affected patients facing mental health challenges.
  • 82% of MH affected COVID-19 patients who called on WHP’s helpline no. had mild mental health issues (anxiety and depression) while 93% MH affected COVID-19 patients showed anxiety and depression symptoms at the household level screening
  • 82% persons with mild mental health issues were found to be normal after completing the tele-counselling sessions
  • A strong linkage was established between gender-based violence issues and mental health. 83% of gender-based violence affected individuals were found to have mental health issues.
  • WHP also facilitated referral services for those in need of institutional care. More than 524 persons for mental health, gender-based violence and substance use disorder, were referred for institutional care
  • During the project, WHP promoted access and linkages to various social security schemes for the most affected. More than 500 beneficiaries directly benefited with these linkages. More than INR 24 lakh was deposited in the bank accounts of COVID affected people as part of the ex-gratia assistance provisions of the state govt.

Emphasising on the need for community participation, Dr. Ajay Chauhan, Member Secretary at the State Mental Health Authority Gujarat, said,WHP along with the state mental health department are extensively working in identifying TB, & COVID patients, substance use and GBV affected patients with mental health issues, as well as providing tele-counselling to mild patients and severe patients are referred to District Mental Health Institute. The pandemic has shown that multi-sectorial collaborations is extremely important to bring about community awareness on early identification, prevention and management of mental health through effective linkages and services.”

Insights from the project show that tele-medicine has been increasingly acknowledged as a viable system to widen access to provide mental health care and support. World Health Partners’ strong community presence together with recent government initiatives like Tele-MANAS can accelerate a positive momentum in care seeking behaviour and building resilient mental health support systems.

World Health Partners (WHP) is a non-profit Indian society that sets up programs to bring sustainable healthcare within easy access to underserved and vulnerable communities. For more details, please visit: www.worldhealthpartners.org .

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