Healthy Minds – Counseling Services

Background and Need:

According to KMH survey, nearly 1.8 million adults (45% of the adult population) in the Kashmir Valley are experiencing symptoms of poor mental health, with 41%, 26%, and 10% having signs of depression, anxiety, and PTSD respectively. Number of people seeking mental health interventions, especially in urban areas has been increasing despite of efforts made by Department of Health to address the problem. Barriers to seeking care and treatment are accentuated by social stigma, discrimination, lack of understanding and neglect. One of the reasons for lack of non-pharmacologic management is access, availability, awareness, and quality of such service. Additionally, this group of population is prone to substance abuse. Common substance abuse in studied patients include Nicotine 94.4%, Medicinal opioids 5.7%, Cannabis 63.6%, Benzodiazepines 45.5%, other prescription medications 43.4%, Alcohol 32.5%, Inhalants11.1%, Cocaine 7.5% and Poly-substance abuse in 91.9%1,2,3.

Assessment: Project Healthy Minds has been running since April 2019 despite brief staff turnover and socio-political glitches in 2022 leading to slow down in consultations. Advocacy programs have increased many folds and has translated into increase in number of consultations. Need increasing number of social workers and clinical psychologists.

Implementing Partner: HELP Foundation

Start Date: 2019

Design:  KASHMER in collaboration with HELP Foundation J&K as implementing partner and Dept. of Psychiatry, SMHS, as supporting partner launched HEALTHY MINDS, a  comprehensive free mental health project providing non-pharmacological interventions, including but not limited to quality psychological counseling, social interventions, substance abuse management and de-addiction in Kashmir Valley to improve all health and social outcomes. Pilot Project was launched in Srinagar and gradually extended to other districts of Kashmir.

Aims: Providing non-pharmacological interventions, including but not limited to quality psychological counseling, social interventions, substance abuse management and de-addiction, educating families and school teachers about behavioral changes associated with substance abuse and rehabilitation of treated patients into the community, and enhance efforts at community education through ERT with local healthcare professionals.

Personnel assigned to the project:

One Consultant clinical psychologist.

3 counselors and one consultant clinical psychologist

Numbers/Key Performance Indicators


Assessment of the impact: Impact has been positive in the public with increasing number of people seeking help at individual as well as institutional level. Almost 7242 patient consultations were done from April 2019 till Dec 2022. Despite of social taboo attached to mental health wellness, increasing number of people are seeking some sort of help regarding their mental health wellness.    

Current StatusThe project is currently active and is implemented with screening at different camps in the schools, colleges, and different localities as well as teleconsultation. We have had positive feedback from the community and support from local psychiatrists and Govt. organizations as deaddiction centers. Given the current assessments the need is immense, and KASHMER will continue to expand this project with further hiring of staff and investment in infrastructure.

  1. Housen T, Lenglet A, Ariti C, Et al Prevalence of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic disorder in the Kashmir Valley. BMJ Global Health 2017; 2: e000419
  2. Bhat SA, Imtiaz N (2017) Drug Addiction in Kashmir: Issues and Challenges. J Drug Abuse Vol.3 No.3:19
  3. J Family Med Prim Care.2021 Jan; 10(1): 414–420