Pilot study to introduce mental health services across Badin

KARACHI:Lady Health Workers (LHWs), in Badin would provide mental health services at the doorstep of communities as part of a pilot study launched by researchers from community health sciences department of Aga Khan University.

Badin has the second highest suicide rate in the province, according to a 2021 report by Sindh Mental Health Authority.

Access to mental healthcare was a major challenge for people in the rural parts of the district and treatment was often avoided due to the stigma attached while mental health practitioners are also not available locally hence accessing care from much needed psychiatrists and psychologists require travel to hospitals in mega cities like Hyderabad and Karachi.

According to AKU sources the first phase of the study would involve cases of anxiety and depression being identified through a survey of households in Badin. LHWs and lady health supervisors (LHSs) would subsequently receive training in community mental health modules under the World Health Organization’s Mental Health Gap (mhGAP) intervention guide which has been specifically designed for use in non-specialized health settings.

This study would provide an innovative technological solution to provide community based mental health services through frontline healthcare workers, said Prof. Fauzia Rabbani, the project’s principal investigator.

Even though the country was facing a rising burden of non-communicable diseases, mental health continues to be a neglected and overlooked area,” she added mentioning that the study seeks to integrate mental health services into essential primary healthcare packages.

The initiative was said to further generate evidence on whether frontline healthcare workers can effectively improve the mental health of the vulnerable communities.