Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.
Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’. Mental illness affects an individual’s emotions, thoughts, behavior and body – and hinders an individual from living a normal life.
Depression and anxiety affect almost 34% of Pakistan’s population. It is one of the most misunderstood, under resourced, stigmatized areas of health. There are only 170 trained psychiatrists for a population of 180 million people in Pakistan. Incorrect awareness is rampant and fuels alternative methods of care that are traumatizing, counterproductive and usually exacerbates the disease; leaving those who suffer undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or untreated.
Given the high prevalence of those who suffer from mental illnesses, there is an urgent need of developing innovative health interventions to help identify and provide support to more people.
IHS collaborated with IRD to help support their mental health program “Pursakoon Zindagi” – a community based mental health program dedicated to help diagnose and treat men and women with anxiety and depression in the comfort of their homes.
IHS collaborated with IRD to help support their mental health program “Pursakoon Zindagi” – a community based mental health program dedicated to help diagnose and treat men and women with anxiety and depression in the comfort of their homes. Selected community mental health workers (CMHWs) are extensively trained and visit households to proactively screen and look for people going through mental distress. Identified people are enlisted in a “talk therapy” program that enables them to better manage their mental distress.
IHS developed a mHealth application and an SMS system to help Pursakoon Zindagi identify and treat client.Through the mobile application, CMHWs are able to access a built-in screening tool for depression and anxiety, connect to OpenMRS (Open Medical Record System), and track counseling outcomes.The application has both online and offline functionality.
The application encompasses four aspects: participants are first registered with their demographic data, and then answer a series of questions to determine their score for depression and anxiety. Next the progress of the participant’s counseling sessions is tracked and appointments are scheduled if a participant agrees to therapy. Upon successful completion of therapy, the participant is re-screened and is ultimately terminated out of the Pursakoon Zindagi counseling program. The application facilitates CMHWs in recording pre and post counseling session notes during therapy. Data is stored on OpenMRS which allows smoother control of management and operations.
Further, the MH app allows CMHWs to enroll participants into a mental health SMS service based on IHS SMS Tarseel platform that sends out a positive support motivational message daily to the subscriber.
With the effective utilization of IHS’s mHealth application, Pursakoon Zindagi has assisted CMHWs screen over 50,000 people in door-to-door home visits, antenatal clinics and hospitals and identify of over 4,400 presumptive client with symptoms of depression and anxiety since February 2015.
The comprehensive mobile technology has drastically decreased the amount of time required to schedule and track counseling progress, thereby freeing up time and resources to give better focus to treatment. It has eliminated paper based record systems and minimized human errors by increasing the accuracy, speed and efficiency of diagnosis. The simplicity and user-friendly characteristics of the tool has empowered individuals to have greater participation in the health-care process, bridged the gap in health disparities and widened the reach to underserved communities.
“SMS Tarseel” has been enthusiastically welcomed by community members and elicited demand for interactivity, facilitated large scale dispersal of information and eased the ultimate goal of eliciting health seeking practices and healthier lifestyles – mentally and physically.