Nearly 450 million people are affected by mental illness worldwide. In wealthy nations, just half receive appropriate care, but in developing countries, close to 90 percent go untreated because psychiatrists are in such short supply. Dr Vikram Patel outlines a highly promising approach — training members of communities to give mental health interventions, empowering ordinary people to care for others.
Dr Patel helps bring better mental health care to low-resource communities — by teaching ordinary people to deliver basic psychiatric services.
He has an acronym to summarize what’s needed to train these people: SUNDAR.
- Simplify the message
- UNpack the treatment
- Deliver it where people are
- Affordable and available human resources
- Reallocation of specialists to train and supervise
The Need For A Very Large Bridge
In the developed world, mental health costs are spiraling out of control, and “a huge chunk of those costs are human resources.” What’s spectacular about SUNDAR, Patel says, is that it is fundamentally empowering. It lets people care for others, and become more invested in their own care as well.
“In order for us to achieve health for all,” says Patel, “we will have to involve all in that particular journey. And in the case of mental health, we will need to involve those affected by mental illness and their caregivers.” As part of that, The Movement for Global Mental Health established as a platform where doctors and those with mental illness can stand together.
In closing, he asks us, “If you have a moment for peace and quiet, spare a moment for the person you know with mental illness, and dare to care for them.”