MahaShakti programme: Trained MBBS doctors at PHCs to conduct psychiatric evaluations of rural population

The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | 24-11-2022 | 02:45 pm

MahaShakti programme: Trained MBBS doctors at PHCs to conduct psychiatric evaluations of rural population

When it comes to mental healthcare, the hinterlands always get ignored. Now, in a first-of-its-kind initiative, the public health department has initiated the MahaShakti programme, under which primary health centres (PHCs) will get trained MBBS doctors to carry out psychiatric evaluations of the rural population.Officials said that due to lack of knowledge, residents of rural Maharashtra fail to identify mental health issues like anxiety, depression and personality disorders, among others. They often go to PHCs with the complaints of insomnia, breathlessness, heavy sweating in palms and neck and acid reflux, which are common symptoms of mental health issues.Dr Swapnil Lale, Additional Director (Health Service), said: “We will station trained MBBS doctors to diagnose such patients. Our main focus would be to provide non-medical care where the patients would be counselled.”Maintaining that moderate patients require medical attention along with counseling, Lale said, “The doctors would be trained to identify such patients, which will help in early treatment and better recovery. If needed, they would be referred to the district centres in the presence of specialists.”As per government data, of every 100 patients, 75 per cent recover with counselling and change in lifestyle, where they are advised to quit smoking and alcohol consumption, go for regular medication and exercises as well as develop the habit of clean eating. As many as 14 per cent of the patients who fall in the category of “moderate patients”, require more medical intervention along with counselling. The remaining one per cent face severe psychotic disorders that require hospitalisation.“For the third category of patients, we have arranged for beds. Each district hospital has been instructed to preserve one per cent of their beds, which is 10 in number, for admission of such patients,” Lale said.Helpline gets 200 calls daily on mental healthOver a month since the launch of the Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele-MANAS), the toll free helpline 14416 has been receiving over 200 calls per day related to mental health in Maharashtra.The callers can talk to the 20 counselors in the state, who hold degrees in master of social work and have been trained by experts from NIMHANS in Bangalore. They work in three shifts of five each.When The Indian Express called the helpline, a counselor said they get many calls related to insomnia, anger management, headache and issues related to relationships. Most of the calls are received during 10 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm.“The callers can remain anonymous or if they want follow-up calls for counselling, they can provide their names and numbers… Also, if the counselors receive calls from seriously-ill patients or their caregivers, the calls are forwarded to the experts in Tier-2,” said Dr Swapnil Lale, Additional Director (Health Service).

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