EMPOWER represents an ambitious undertaking to grow the world’s mental health workforce. Its mission is to empower anyone, anywhere, to master the delivery of evidence-based psychological treatments and behavioral interventions. This project outlines a solution to addressing the global challenge of lack of access to quality mental health care. Despite the abundance of evidence showing that psychological treatments are the most potent interventions for common mental health problems, there is virtually no coverage globally.
EMPOWER India builds on the NIMH-funded ESSENCE project, currently being implemented by Sangath Bhopal in collaboration with Harvard Medical School. As part of ESSENCE, the project has focused on developing a digital platform for training community health workers to deliver the Healthy Activity Program- a 6- 8 session brief-psychological treatment for depression. This evidence-based program has already been evaluated in randomized controlled trials in India and Nepal (with support from the Wellcome Trust and UKAid).
EMPOWER India specifically involves refining, developing, and adapting the digital training content for non-specialist health workers for delivery in Gujarat, India. The overall aim of EMPOWER India is to build India’s mental health workforce through a digital platform to enable non-specialist health workers (such as ASHAs, ASHA facilitators, CHOs, and other non-specialist health workers) to learn evidence-based brief psychological treatments for mental disorders, assess their competency, and assure quality as they deliver these interventions in primary care settings.
- The project will refine and improve the digital training program developed as part of the ESSENCE program, contextualize and adapt it for use in PHC settings in Gujarat (EMPOWER Gujarati version of HAP and the accompanying competency tools), and assess feasibility and acceptability by frontline health workers.
- The project will ensure that the enhanced digital platform can be accessible in a completely offline format.
- The project aims to scale the digital platform from ESSENCE to an additional rural district in Gujarat. This will involve training a new cohort of frontline health workers using the digital platform and evaluating the impact and reach of efforts.