District-Wide Rural Mental Health Program in Davangere Achieves Self-Sustainability as Local Community Takes Charge

– LiveLoveLaugh is replicating its collaborative rural program model in 11 other districts across six states –

Davangere, 9 November 2023: A collaborative rural mental healthcare program in Davangere in Karnataka has achieved self-sustainability, demonstrating the integral role of the community in shaping the success of mental health interventions.

The district-wide program covering all six taluks in Davangere has impacted 2,178 Persons with Mental Illness (PWMIs) and 8,172 caregivers. It is now run by the local community after being supported for seven years by APD (The Association for People with Disability) and LiveLoveLaugh (LLL), a charitable trust founded by Deepika Padukone.

Attaining self-sustainability was made possible by working collaboratively with LLL’s partner APD, and various stakeholders such as frontline ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) and Anganwadi workers, the district administration, and the caregivers of PWMIs (Persons With Mental Illness) in the local community.

Elaborating on the program’s success, Anisha Padukone, CEO, LiveLoveLaugh, said: “LiveLoveLaugh partnered with APD to kick-start the Community Mental Health Program (CMHP) in Davangere in 2016 using a holistic approach centered around three key elements: Awareness, Accessibility, and Affordability. Through a strategic combination of activities such as street plays, wall paintings, consistent training for frontline workers in mental health care, treatment access, livelihood support, and connecting beneficiaries to government schemes, the community has made significant strides in expanding mental health support across the district. We are delighted that over the last seven years, we have empowered the community to run the program independently.”

Features of the Program:

Scale and Expansion: Starting with two taluks in Davangere, the program has scaled to support six taluks in the last seven years.
Reduced Cost of Treatment: Treatment costs dropped from INR 3,000 – 4,000 per month to zero, owing to free treatment and medication provided as part of the intervention.
ASHA Worker Support: 104 out of 170 ASHAs in Davangere are actively involved in the Community Mental Health Program.
Tele-Medicine Support: The hybrid model introduced during the pandemic to provide home delivery of medication to Persons with Mental Illness, in addition to psychiatric facilities and medicines at PHCs, continues to date.
Reduced Stigma: With increased awareness and reduced stigma, the demand for mental health services has increased after LLL’s program intervention.
Capacity Building: LLL has facilitated cross-learning by leveraging the experience of all partners to strengthen the program model continuously.
Volunteer Support: One community leader in each of the six taluks is working full-time to implement the CMHP program.

Anisha also noted that a crucial aspect of the program in Davangere involved prioritizing caregivers by providing them with training to enhance their caregiving abilities, address their own health needs, help them become financially independent, and understand their rights and means to access benefits through government schemes, to support their families. In addition, caregivers were also provided assistance to commence livelihood activities to support themselves.

Besides Davangere, LiveLoveLaugh’s rural program outreach extends to Gulbarga, Belagavi, and Bidar in Karnataka; Theni and Thiruvallur in Tamil Nadu; Idukki in Kerala; Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, and Koraput and Puri in Odisha. 4314 Persons With Mental Illness (PWMIs) have been treated, 13,005 caregivers supported, and 21,079 community leaders and 3598 ASHAs have been trained across these six states.

LiveLoveLaugh’s rural program aims to support persons with mental illness and their caregivers through an integrated and sustainable model of mental healthcare delivery. Through a carefully structured framework, various stakeholder groups are formed and trained to support communities. These support groups, including ASHA workers, community volunteers and caregivers, are equipped with the knowledge and skills required to become advocates for mental health awareness. ASHA workers are also trained to identify and support persons with mental illness. All the stakeholders are empowered to carry forward the program’s reach and effectiveness within the communities. As support groups became proficient and self-reliant over time, LLL’s community mental health program has evolved into a self-sustaining model driven by community ownership and empowerment to provide mental health support.

Over the years, LLL has implemented various targeted initiatives to address India’s urgent requirement for mental health interventions. In addition to the rural program, the organization has focused on key areas such as awareness and destigmatization campaigns, mental health education for adolescents, research, capacity-building, and funding free counselling helplines.

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