While the issue of mental health has received heightened public awareness recently, the attention has primarily focused on urban India.
Mental disorders, however, are equally prevalent in rural areas. The acute lack of resources in rural India specifically leads mentally ill patients to remain either undetected or improperly handled.
To mark World Mental Health Day 2017, and as part of its mission to mainstream mental health, a team from The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), led by actor and TLLLF Founder, Deepika Padukone, on Tuesday visited Davengere district in Karnataka where TLLLF has partnered with Association of People with Disabilities (APD) on a rural mental health project.
Deepika Padukone, Founder - The Live Love Laugh Foundation said, "It was so inspiring for all of us at TLLLF to visit Davengere today and see the impact of our programme with APD. From two taluks the programme has grown to six taluks and covers more than 800 patients today, as against 200 patients just two years ago reaffirming our belief that collaboration between like-minded organizations and continued commitment to the cause can achieve great results."
Anna Chandy, Chairperson, The Live Love Laugh Foundation said, "The impact of stigma associated with mental illness is as acute in rural areas as in an urban setting. However the opportunity to access appropriate treatment for mental health in towns and villages of our country is lacking. Having said that, there is impressive work being done by a range of organizations and committed individuals. It was heartening to see this point illustrated today during our visit. Inclusion of mental health survivors into the mainstream is essential - not only in our cities but also in non-metros. TLLLF's approach reinforces the need to collaborate and build partnerships, and focus on innovative thinking and multi-stakeholder engagement to reach out and touch the lives of the many people in need of help, regardless of where they are located".
Janardhan, Associate Director, Association of People with Disabilities (APD) said, "TLLLF has opened the new doors of opportunity for people with mental health issues living in the remotest part of rural Karnataka to receive treatment and support at their doorstep. This has had an immense positive effect not only on the person affected but also on the whole community around them. For this we immensely thank TLLLF and look forward to strengthen our partnership with them."
In the two years that TLLLF has been associated with the programme, a total of 892 individuals suffering from mental health concerns have been treated. About 810 community workers (ASHA workers, village rehabilitation workers, and health staff) have participated in 6 mental health awareness programmes during this period.
Individuals and families are given access to mental health care treatment by directing them to the local Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in their taluks, as well as the district-level hospitals.
A survey conducted by the on-ground APD team has also led to the identification of 217 new individuals who would benefit from mental health care interventions. The individuals suffering from mental illnesses have been identified through the network of Village Rehabilitation Workers.
Among the other initiatives undertaken by TLLLF are: 'You Are Not Alone', an awareness programme on depression, for adolescent school children and teachers conducted in six states covering nearly 40,000 students and more than 6,000 teachers across nearly 300 urban and rural schools; 'Together Against Depression', a programme to sensitize doctors on mental health that has covered more than 2000 doctors; and 'Dobara Poocho', India's first nationwide public awareness campaign on mental health.
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