Embedding and Scaling Mental Health Services within Primary Healthcare
Insights from a roundtable discussion
We at Sattva brought together government, philanthropy, not-for-profit, and private sector leaders and policymakers for a roundtable conversation on embedding mental health services within primary health care. The discussion centred around identifying existing mental health paradigms, recognising the need to redefine current approaches, challenges, scalability and feasibility of solutions.
Some of the key insights from the discussion were:
1. In India, one in five adults tends to suffer from depression at some point in their lifetime. However, mental health programmes account for only 0.05% of the total health budget compared to an average of 5% in developed countries.
2. Mental health is a broad issue that can result from stressors such as domestic violence, food insecurity, poverty, lack of opportunities, discrimination, and other such problems prevalent in society.
3. The strong network of primary health centres (PHCs) has been identified as a viable medium to make mental healthcare accessible to all populations. However, the existing structure needs a significant ramping up of resources.
4. Philanthropic entities need to play a more active role in the mental health ecosystem. They can support necessary programmatic interventions and focus on system-level strengthening, to enable appropriate, evidence-based care in a sustainable manner.
5. For mental healthcare interventions to be effective, it is necessary to depart from the pre-existing top-down approach. Stakeholders must ensure community involvement, both in designing the solutions and participating in care delivery.
6. Tech platforms for mental health need to evolve continuously to remain responsive. Hence, developers and providers of tech-enabled mental healthcare must sustain engagement at a local level to ensure that there is a continuum of input and feedback from the community.
The roundtable showed us that no one organisation could make this happen as a standalone agent, given the cross-sectoral nature of the actors involved and has highlighted how important it is to drive collaborative action.
At Sattva, we hope that this discussion serves as a starting point towards this and are committed to working with the ecosystem in taking this forward.
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