Research Summary

Innovative provision of primary mental health care in India: The Systematic Medical Appraisal, Referral and Treatment (SMART) Mental Health Programme

Introduction: The global burden of mental disorders and treatment gap is large, especially in countries like India due to poor awareness about mental health and few available resources for providing care. A potential strategy to narrow this gap is by enabling the available primary-care workforce through provision of affordable, accessible and high-quality electronic clinical decision support.

Aim: To develop and evaluate the feasibilityacceptability and preliminary effectiveness of a multifaceted primary healthcare worker intervention utilising a mobile device based electronic decision support system to improve the identification and management of individuals >=18years with common mental disorders(CMD).

Method: The study will be conducted in 12 villages of the West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. Two key phases are – development of the intervention that will enable suitably trained ASHAs and primary-care doctors to identify and manage CMD in the community; and conduct of a large pilot study to evaluate this intervention utilising quantitative and qualitative methods.

Conclusion: This study will result in the development of a highly innovative intervention to improve mental health outcomes in a community with great need. It is anticipated that it will lead to development of a robust intervention for subsequent large-scale implementation and rigorous evaluation.