Millions of people around the world are affected by common mental disorders such as depression, emotional stress and suicidal tendencies at some point in their life. Even in the most developed nations, these conditions can go untreated and in some cases, undiagnosed.
The so-called “treatment gap” – where people needing treatment do not get it – is particularly large in India.
In some rural areas there is often just one doctor looking after up to 30,000 people. The doctors are not always psychiatrists and, although they are trained in mental health disorders, they don’t always know how to treat these conditions.
But in Andhra Pradesh, one project is trying to circumvent the need for more doctors, by using existing health resources to identify potential patients through a mobile-based app.
The SMARTmh system uses female health workers or Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), to screen people in rural villages in West Godavari district.