VISHRAM, a community-based programme reduced the treatment gap for depression in rural India

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Background

VISHRAM was a community-based mental health programme with the goal of addressing the mental health risk factors for suicide in people from 30 villages in the Amravati district in Vidarbha, central India. We aimed to assess whether implementation of VISHRAM was associated with an increase in the proportion of people with depression who sought treatment (contact coverage).

Methods

A core strategy of VISHRAM was to increase the demand for care by enhancing mental health literacy and to improve the supply of evidence-based interventions for depression and alcohol-use disorders. Intervention for depression was led by community-based workers and non-specialist counsellors and done in collaboration with facility-based general physicians and psychiatrists. From Dec 25, 2013, to March 10, 2014, before VISHRAM was introduced, we did a baseline cross-sectional survey of adults randomly selected from the electoral roll (baseline survey population). The structured interview was administered by field researchers independent of the VISHRAM intervention and included questions about sociodemographic characteristics, health-care service use, depression (measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ]-9), and mental health literacy. 18 months after VISHRAM was enacted, we repeated sampling methods to select a separate population of adults (18 month survey population) and administered the same survey. The primary outcome was change in contact coverage with VISHRAM, defined as the...