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Problem Solving Must-Reads: India’s Innovation in Mental Health Treatment

Plus: Connecting war victims with resources through a Mobile Victims Unit and a German professor connecting refugees with other academics

Problem Solving Must-Reads: India’s Innovation in Mental Health Treatment

Plus: Connecting war victims with resources through a Mobile Victims Unit and a German professor connecting refugees with other academics

India severely lacks the facilities, programs, personnel and capacity to address mental health issues of its vast population. According to a report from the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, even though the country requires over 50,000 health professionals, it only has about 7,000—a huge gap in access to health care professional for Indian people. Because of the lack of resources and social stigmas surrounding mental health, many people in the country do not have appropriate mental health literacy. The cultural stigmas surrounding mental health issues greatly impede those individuals with mental health conditions and severe emotional distress, and are often reluctant to seek help.

To bridge this considerable gap between the need for mental health services and its availability, nonprofit Sangath is training people at the community level to be  lay-counselors, people who undergo training to provide counseling services to those who do not have access to professionally-trained mental health service providers. People with at least a 10th grade education are being given an intensive workshops by mental health professionals on how to talk to people with depression or alcoholism. They are then tasked with assisting people in their community who suffer from different mental health issues and provide them counseling.   

There is still a debate around the world in the mental health community about whether people with much less training than a psychologist and psychiatrist can deliver proper care. The practice of using lay counselors is only in its pilot phase, but two evaluations of the program has shown it to be quite successful and promising. Sangath is now looking to expand the program into more communities. Currently the program is only offered in two India states.  

Read the full story here (via The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting)

Here’s what else we’re reading:

Using Innovation to Deliver Justice in Colombia

The Government of Colombia and the the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia recently signed a peace agreement that ended over 52 years of civil war in the country. However, Colombia is still facing challenges around providing justice to war victims, especially ones that live in extremely remote areas. The government has found an innovative solution to this problem, in the form of a Mobile Victims Unit. The MVU is a vehicle that travels across the country to various rural, isolated areas and provides services like information about victim’s rights, legal aid and the status of victimhood and appeals cases. So far, the unit has served about 60,000 people across the country and has helped the government gather data that will inform policy-making on issues relating to victim services. (via London School of Economics Department of International Development Blog)

Website Connects Refugees and German Academics

Photo: NPR

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are over 21 million refugees around the world. Germany has been at the forefront of receiving and accommodating many of these refugees from war-torn Syria. As people in Germany continue to have debates about refugee resettlement and integration, a Leipzig University professor in Germany has decided to take action by reaching out to people in refugee camps who have advanced academic training. Carmen Bachmann created a website that makes it possible for refugees with an academic background to directly get in touch German academics in their fields, with the hopes that it will lead to a job or pave the way for future collaboration. So far, more than 500 people have registered for the website and Bachmann has been invited to discuss her project with officials at the European Union. (via NPR)  

Photo Header via Pulitzer Center

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