ATMIYATA

Grand Challenges Canada: Global Mental Health Programs
CMHLP has been awarded two grants from Grand Challenges Canada: “Canada Global Mental Health: Integrated Innovations to Improve Treatments and Expand Access to Care” programs.

This project is led by Dr. Kaustubh Joag (Research Fellow at CMHLP) along with Dr. Nandita Kapadia-Kundu (a lead researcher in Public Health and Community-based programs, training health workers and managing health awareness classes for women and children). This collaborators of the project include BAIF, a Pune based NGO and Trimbos Institute Netherlands. This innovative project aims address health rights by improving access to mental healthcare through community-based self-help groups and farmers’ clubs in rural Maharashtra state. The project has been successfully running since December 2013. The intervention and evaluation of the project will end in November 2015.

The ATMIYATA intervention targets 3 populations experiencing varying levels of distress. First are people with emotional distress and stress, who will receive support from community groups (SHG, farmers’ clubs) so they (and their families) can better cope with stress. This level of intervention is necessary as a prevention measure for the development of CMHD’s and SMI. The second intervention level is targeted at people with CMHD’s. The leaders of SHG’s/FC’s in 41 villages will be trained to detect, refer and follow-up CMHDs. The third level targets SMI. The intervention facilitates access to treatment for SMI at both the first referral unit (FRU) and district hospital levels. The second crucial part of the intervention is ensuring access and entitlement to social benefits available to persons with mental illness. Entitlement to other social benefits will also be promoted. Disability certificates can also be obtained from the district hospital (a social care benefit). Facilitators will aid in accessing social care benefits for all people they consult throughout the intervention.

Atmiyata means empathy or compassion in Marathi. It is the core tenet of the intervention and will apply to self help groups, farmers clubs, families and the community at large. It will enable the creation of a community environment where people will not feel afraid to come forward to seek help. The community will also include “vaidus” or local healers that are often approached in the case of severe mental illness.