Nagpur: The Vidarbha Stress and Health Program (VISHRAM), a four-year community-based mental health program launched in November 2011, is culminating work this November. The program has been implemented by Sangath in partnership with Prakriti and Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR), with support from Tata Trusts.
The mission of this program was to design, implement and evaluate a mental health demonstration program to address psychosocial distress in agricultural communities in Vidarbha. After an initial two-year period of developing the program in small number of villages, the program carried out a survey of common mental health problems, which reported that nearly 15% of the adults were suffering from depression in 30 villages in Chandur Bazaar and Dhamangaon talukas.
The significant factors associated with depression included among others the female population of the region, low educational attainment, below the poverty line (BPL) existence and indebtedness. *Spokesperson, Designation, Sangath, said, "Only 4.3% of these individuals had sought help from a health facility. Since November 2013, the program has been implemented in the 30 villages, covering a total population of around 1 lakh. The program comprises three tiers of service providers. Now, 39 frontline Community Health Workers use community meetings to generate awareness about common mental disorders and alcohol use disorders."
Since April 2014, Mental Health First Aid has been provided to over 1000 individuals in the region. Also, the Community Health Workers are supervised by 8 health counsellors who have treated 643 individuals with more advanced psychosocial interventions during the same period. Specialist services are provided by the government or NGO psychiatrist through out-patient clinics and camps in Primary Health Centre's and Rural Hospitals; 261 patients have received treatment by specialists since April 2014. In addition to this, VISHRAM community health workers have identified 71 individuals who attempted suicide and 56 families in which suicide was completed since January 2012. Community health workers and health counsellors provided psychosocial interventions to all these individuals who attempted suicide and the suicide survivor families.
Biswanath Sinha, Associate Director, Tata Trusts, said, "At Tata Trusts we work to create a better world for people with mental illnesses through educating the community about mental health, and thereby, eliciting a positive response of inclusion and ownership. VISHRAM's main achievement has been in establishing a collaborative network of institutions comprising NGOs, medical and public health institutions and government health department to deliver evidence-based medicines and psychosocial interventions to individuals with common mental health disorders and those who attempted suicide as well as suicide-affected family members. The last four years have been a unique experience and offer a model for the District Mental Health Program across the country."
The Community Health Workers regularly follow up with the patients, thereby ensuring continuing care. A formal evaluation to assess the changes in proportion of persons with depression who have accessed health care will provide definitive evidence of the impact of the program.
About Tata Trusts
Tata Trusts are amongst India's oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organisations that work in several areas of community development. Tata Trusts seek to be catalysts in development through giving grants to institutions in the areas of Natural Resources Management, Rural Livelihoods, Urban Livelihoods & Poverty, Education, Enhancing Civil Society and Governance, Health and Media Arts, Crafts and Culture.
For more information please visit http://tatatrusts.org/
Dr Vikram Patel