Healthy Minds – Counseling Services

HEALTHY MINDS:  A comprehensive mental health project providing non pharmacologic interventions, including but not limited to, free quality psychological counseling, social interventions, substance abuse management and de-addiction in Kashmir Valley.

Background

In regions affected by conflict, the psychological and socio-economic impact of political instability and exposure to traumatic events, further adds to these difficulties, compounding issues already faced in developing countries of financial need, poor availability and awareness of mental health disorders and relevant treatment modalities.

The impact of daily stressors on mental distress in conflict-affected  populations should not be underestimated and are listed as pivotal by most individuals on surveys.

Kashmir Mental Health Survey 2015, conducted by Médecins Sans Frontières in collaboration with Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Kashmir and Kashmir University, was the first mental health survey conducted in all 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley.

Key Findings of the KMH Survey

  • 1.8 million (45%) adults in the Kashmir Valley have significant symptoms of mental distress.
  • Approximately 1.6 million adults (41%) in the valley are living with significant symptoms of depression, with 37% of adult males and 50% of females suffering from probable depression and 415,000 (10%) meeting all the diagnostic criteria for severe depression.
  • An estimated 1 million adults (26%) in the valley are living with significant symptoms of an anxiety related disorder.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 adults (19%) or 771,000 individuals in the Valley are living with significant PTSD symptoms, with 248,000 (6%) meeting the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
  • High rates of co-morbidity of symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD were found in adults living in the valley.
  • Bio-medicalisation of mental health care and treatment is supported by findings from the survey which showed that 11% of Kashmiri adults were taking benzodiazepines.

 

Our Approach:

KASHMER, in association with its ground partner, HELP and an advisory team of local and international experts, including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, public officials, have created a network with a central hub in Srinagar and satellite centers, providing comprehensive psychologic and behavioral health services, such as quality counseling, psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management techniques, among others.

  • We provide much needed alternate, free of cost, accessible psychologic counseling, therapy-individual and family, socioeconomic intervention in various districts.
  • Promotion of collaboration amongst stakeholders to create an integrated response for the prevention and care of mental distress.
  • Cross referral and collaboration at all levels and functions of the existing health structure, specifically referral to the existing primary, secondary and tertiary MHS in place
  • Increased awareness and sensitization among the community
  • Encourage health promoting activities which decrease drug use.
  • Increase awareness about the harm and addictive potential of various substances in the young and their communities for easy identification for early intervention.

Initially, we operated from Srinagar, Pulwama, Pattan, Kupwara, and Inderhamma. However, due to 2019 lockdown, we moved to local clinics, and other facilities such as Cancer Society of Kashmir, Observational Juvenile Home, besides South Kashmir locations. Since Coronavirus lockdown started, we  have been offering telephonic couseling.

Under this program, we are offering  free pandemic stress related counseling

 

Our work in Numbers

Since the launch of the project in May 2019, we :

  •  Served approximately 800 clients.
  • Conducted 11 community sensitization programs.