MahaShakti programme: Trained MBBS doctors at PHCs to conduct psychiatric evaluations of rural population


When it comes to mental healthcare, the hinterlands always get ignored. Now, in a first-of-its-kind initiative, the public health department has initiated the MahaShakti programme, under which primary health centres (PHCs) will get trained MBBS doctors to carry out psychiatric evaluations of the rural population.

Officials said that due to lack of knowledge, residents of rural Maharashtra fail to identify mental health issues like anxiety, depression and personality disorders, among others. They often go to PHCs with the complaints of insomnia, breathlessness, heavy sweating in palms and neck and acid reflux, which are common symptoms of mental health issues.

Dr Swapnil Lale, Additional Director (Health Service), said: “We will station trained MBBS doctors to diagnose such patients. Our main focus would be to provide non-medical care where the patients would be counselled.”

Maintaining that moderate patients require medical attention along with counseling, Lale said, “The doctors would be trained to identify such patients, which will help in early treatment and better recovery. If needed, they would be referred to the district centres in the presence of specialists.”

As per government data, of every 100 patients, 75 per cent recover with counselling and change in lifestyle, where they are advised to quit smoking and alcohol consumption, go for regular medication and exercises as well as develop the habit of clean eating. As many as 14 per cent of the patients who fall in the category of “moderate patients”, require more medical intervention along with counselling. The remaining one per cent face severe psychotic disorders that require hospitalisation.

“For the third category of patients, we have arranged for beds. Each district hospital has been instructed to preserve one per cent of their beds, which is 10 in number, for admission of such patients,” Lale said.


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