Depression is the most frequently encountered mental health disorder in Pakistan. Due to the stigma associated with mental health diseases, those who suffer often remain undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or untreated.
With rapid urbanization, disparity of health services and the growing socio-economic divide – the need to emphasize mental health services becomes increasingly important. There is an urgency to develop new interventions to increase early detection and treatment of mental illness, in the general population and in the cases of disease co-morbidity.
Initially this program was implemented in 3 low income communities in Karachi. Over 65 community members were trained in basic counseling skills to be able to screen and treat depression and anxiety. Equipped with smart phones and a customized mobile health application, trained workers went door to door screening to proactively identify and track men and women suffering from depression and anxiety. Identified persons were then provided free counseling services in the privacy of their homes.
Through this pilot program IRD Pakistan has been able to establish a novel way to approach mental health that enables community members to become a part of the solution and be catalyst for change. The m-health app enabled paperless execution and allowed the program to scale seamlessly.