Mental health for all by involving all

In towns and villages that have few clinics, doctors and nurses, one particular need often gets overlooked: mental health.

When there is no psychiatrist, how do people get care when they need it?

In a moving TED talk, Vikram Patel describes an innovative promising approach: training whoever is available, be it a local nurse or a family member, to provide a range of mental health interventions — no psychiatrist required.

Inspired by books like: Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook, this approach “…doesn’t simply make healthcare more accessible and affordable, but it is fundamentally empowering,” says Patel and continues, “It empowers ordinary people to be more effective for caring for the health of others in their community and, in doing so, to become better guardians of their own health.”

Patel believes that “In this journey… we would need to involve all… to involve people that are affected by mental illness and their caregivers”.

Patel is the co-director of the Centre for Global Mental Health  and the co-founder of Sangath, an NGO dedicated to mental health. In 2003, he published the tome Where There Is No Psychiatrist, which explains more than 30 clinical disorders to readers, teaching them to problem-solve when they encounter each.