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Phase I: Community Education – This is the most important phase and serves as the foundation for improving access and quality of treatment. We hold educational seminars – led by a paid, local social worker and volunteer psychologist – featuring a film screening, informational pamphlets, and a teaching session in each of 18 villages in the Vadodara area of Gujarat, India. We work in partnership with village leaders to maximize the impact of each workshop. Mental Health Awareness Assessments are carried out before and after the educational seminar to provide us with ongoing feedback on the efficacy of our program. The objective is to reduce stigmatization of mental illness, encouraging communities to recognize it as a medical condition. This process has begun to create a receptive community in which patients can receive strong local support.
Phase II: Treatment – A combined effort with two objectives: diagnose sick individuals and provide them with access to quality counseling and treatment, entirely free. Data from a Mental Health Indicator Survey administered by our social worker helps us approximate the number of people needing treatment. Most patients are either referred to us by village leaders, or seek our help directly after they or their family attends an educational seminar. We divide the villages into groups by geographic location and provide transportation every 15 days to each village cluster, so that patients can access medical treatment at our partner hospital in Vadodara. Patients will also be referred to psychiatrists and psychologists at partnering private practices in the region for free counseling beyond this bi-monthly service. We emphasize holistic, individualized treatment plans, but also cover the costs of medication for patients in need.
Phase III: Reintegration – We make sure that patients in recovery can succeed in their communities. Fostering acceptance of mental illness makes this task easier. We support this objective with ongoing community rehab programs focusing on yoga, gardening, and traditional crafts. Patients can also become an educational resource for new ones, taking on the duties of our social worker and serving as an example that it is possible to lead a normal life. Our program has no true end, but is a sustainable cycle that can be continued entirely with local support, allowing our team to focus on other areas of need.