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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 5-10

Adapting the stepped care approach for providing comprehensive mental health services in rural India: Tapping the untapped potential

1 Department of Community & Family Medicine, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2 Department of Epidemiology, NIMHANS, Bangalore, India
3 Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
4 Department of Community & Family Medicine, AIIMS, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
5 Department of Public Health & Epidemiology, IIHMR University, Jaipur, India

Correspondence Address:
Anindo Majumdar
Assistant Professor, Department of Community & Family Medicine, AIIMS, Bhopal - 462020, Madhya Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2395-2113.251440

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Recent National Mental Health Survey (2015-16) reported a prevalence of 13.7% for any mental disorders excluding tobacco use disorders in India. Translating it into real numbers, nearly 150 million people need active mental health interventions, disproportionately more in rural areas. Major challenges in delivering comprehensive mental health services in rural India are: a) lack of a well-defined strategy; and b) lack of trained mental health manpower. To fill this gap, the global mental health community has increasingly realized the importance of Community Health Workers (CHWs) and role of stepped care approach in mental health service delivery. We propose a model of stepped care approach to fulfil the need of rural India, utilizing the existing health system components for improving mental health knowledge, reducing social stigma for mental disorders, screening for priority mental disorders at community level, ensuring compliance to treatment, timely follow-up, and community-based rehabilitation by mobilising community support for diagnosed cases. This stepped care approach will integrate mental health into Ayushman Bharat’s Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) for the provision of comprehensive primary health care. Integration of new age technologies such as telepsychiatry, e-health, and mHealth into the proposed model will make it feasible and cost-efficient for inaccessible parts of the country.

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