HomeHealthIIT Ropar to counsel women under mental health awareness campaign-MANN-JITT

IIT Ropar to counsel women under mental health awareness campaign-MANN-JITT

IIT Ropar to counsel women under mental health awareness campaign-MANN-JITT

KI Singh/ royalpatiala.in/ Ropar

Despite utter importance and urgency, mental health concerns are not being adequately addressed, reasons being associated stigma or misconceptions, lack of awareness about its dynamics, non-availability or non-accessibility of services to cater such issues and many more. Therefore, access to mental healthcare is poor, especially among women. IIT Ropar initiated a yearlong project for assessing the level of depression and anxiety among middle-aged women and the possible risk factors behind it. MANN-JITT also explores the need for recovery, multilayered strategy of countering depression and the availability of counseling services. This campaign will extend up to one year and will cover almost thirty urban and rural areas spread across the state of Punjab.

IIT Ropar to counsel women under mental health awareness campaign-MANN-JITT

The team has started its functioning from Ropar itself; in past twenty days four villages have been visited in which around a hundred and fifty women were assessed for various mental health parameters. The vision of this program is to promote mental health at village level in Punjab and for delivering specialist care to everyone who needs it.

Dr Parwinder Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and Head of this project said, “Depression, the prototype mood disorder is a painful emotional experience that involves intense suffering that can drain the life of meaning, excitement and pleasure. Affective disorders are nearly twice more common among women than men. After diagnosing the mental health issues in women, we will provide psychological counselling to strengthen their cognitive, behavioural and emotional aspects, thereby enhancing their mental health.” He quoted an Indian report published in 2016, stating that in India, there are approximate 57 million people (18% of the global estimate) affected by depression.       The significant observation in the data is that women are more affected by depression than men. As India is witnessing significant changes (including globalization, urbanization, migration, and modernization) that are coupled with a rapid socio-demographic transition, depression is likely to increase in the coming years.

Apart from the issues mentioned above, the limited availability of mental health workforce in India make this problem more severe. India is facing an acute shortage of professionals to recognize, refer and follow-up those with depression. In India, a treatment gap of 87.2–95.7% was reported for depression from community-based studies. Data from the World Health Survey reported a treatment gap of 88%, while the National Mental Health Survey, in 2016 showed a treatment gap of 86% for depression. Therefore, the current scenario in the Indian context necessitates immediate attention to these mental health issues, especially among Indian women and interveneto manage this potentially devastating scenario.


Among the masses, mental health is generally considered as the absence of mental disorders or disabilities, but factually it is more than that. It is an instrument to realize one’s potential to the possible extent, to become what one is capable of becoming.  Its importance can be inferred from a very straightforward statement that ‘mental health affects ones’ behaviour’. The way we think, feel, deal with emotions, interact with others, cope with daily stressors, perform our duties and responsibilities, all are directly linked to our mental health status.  It will not be an exaggeration if we say that sound mental health is a prerequisite to cope with the daily stressors of life, work productively and to make a contribution to one’s community and the nation at large.


Depression is a mood disorder characterized by pervasive sadness, loss of pleasure in activities which were enjoyable in the past, loss of energy and will to do any activity, negative views about self, others and the future, hopelessness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns and suicidal ideation. All these symptoms are generally measured through some standardized screening tools and clinical interview. Family members and significant others may also provide essential inputs as they can notice changes in the behaviour of the affected person.


The expert group driving this campaign consists of trained psychologists and counsellors, having sufficient experience to assess and provide required psychological assistance. For all the activities, a specific module has been formulated following the guidelines suggested by the World Health Organization, counselling psychologists, and cognitive behavioural therapists.  The team will be visiting thirty rural and urban areas of Punjab and conduct the module. The module consists of 10 sessions, each of approximately 45 minutes of duration. In the first session, orientation and assessment are done and based on the outcome, affected cases are identified. Severe cases of depression with suicidal tendencies will be referred for appropriate psychiatric consultation. In the following sessions, individualized counselling is provided to enhance their well-being.  Each session concentrates on a specified area of concern with a primary focus on cognitive restructuring and enhancing problem-solving as well as decision-making capacities.


IIT Ropar fully funds this project under the ‘Institutional Scheme for Innovative Research and Development’.  The Institute provided a team of counselling psychologists in addition to the available faculty member and research scholars working in the area. All the travel expenses are also being borne by IIT Ropar.


The initiative taken by IIT Ropar needs cooperation from District Administration, concerned Chief Medical Officers, Block Development Officers, Panchayat Secretaries and of course Gram Panchayat, to make it useful and a success. It is very tough to break the specific impediments related to mental health concerns, and it requires sincere collective efforts to get it done. The most important breakthrough would be the awareness of this mission and our first contact with the targeted population. Media can play a very vital role in achieving this objective of the mission.


We aspire to inculcate psychological resilience and sustainable optimistic orientation among women required to deal effectively with life challenges. Appropriate training to counter vulnerabilities and safeguard themselves against potential mental health issues will build Psychological Capacity of the women resulting in sustained psychological well-being. Nonetheless, Adequate awareness of mental health concerns will take care of various matters that may arise in their life in the times to come. Moreover, this exercise will provide a protocol of mental health service delivery, stimulate more such initiatives and bring about far-reaching change and modernization in the village level mental health services, which will be to the benefit of everyone concerned, especially women.




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