MSF initiates a mental health pilot project in the Ganderbal district, Kashmir

Kashmir, India - MSF, in collaboration with the government medical college, has started a pilot project to provide mental health services in the Ganderbal district, Kashmir, India. The project is intended to establish a system for dealing with the psycho-social problems evident in the area. Due to long term social upheaval, the area population is suffering from traumatic stress, depression and psychosocial problems (e.g. substance abuse, domestic violence). An MSF expat staff member will train the local staff to conduct counselling under the supervision of MSF. Along with this project, MSF is supporting and financing the Voluntary Health Association (VHA). This Indian NGO implements primary health care services in a predominantly Shia area. The VHA receives in-depth support on the integration of psychosocial activities into the primary health services. MSF has tried to gain access to the region since 1995, but it was only last year that MSF was allowed permanent presence by giving training and implementing health care programmes firstly in cooperation with VHA. The Indian authorities have now permitted MSF's long-term presence by recognizing that the projects were an added value to the health care system in Kashmir.