Mental health drives at grassroots can prevent suicides, says report

Mental health drives at grassroots can prevent suicides (TOI illustration for representation)

Grassroots community mental health programmes to address risk factors such as depressionand alcohol use disorders can significantly address treatment gaps and reduce incidence of suicide, a new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry shows.

The prevalence of depression, one of the most common mental disorders, fell from 14.6% to 11.3% following community mental health interventions implemented by two NGOs -Prakriti and Sangath.

The population-based programme -Vishram (Vidarbha Stress and Health Program) was implemented over 18 months in Vidarbha, which reported a high prevalence of suicides in agricultural com munities. The impact of the programme was evaluated by Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in a study , findings of which have been published in Lancet.

Apart from the significant drop in people with depression, community interventions resulted in six-fold jump from just 4.3% to 27.2% in 12 months, in the proportion of people with the disorder who sought treatment. The prevalence of suicidal thoughts also fell from 5.2% to 2.5% during the same period, indicating effectiveness of such programmes.

Experts say the study produces evidence that such programmes can significantly address the existing treatment gaps to bring down morbidity and mortality from mental health disorders.


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