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New Approaches for Detection, Treatment and Control of Mental Illness

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The Problem

Mental health is an integral part of the health. Indeed, there is no health without mental health. The burden of mental disorder is growing continuously accounting for 14% of the global burden of disease worldwide; 75% of this burden occurs in low- and middle-income countries. The mental disorders mainly include: depression, dementia, bipolar affective disorder, Parkinson’s, dementia (Alzheimer’s), intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders including autism. Depression is ranked by WHO as the single largest contributor to global disability (7.5% of all years lived with disability in 2015); anxiety disorders are ranked 6th (3.4%).

Different disorders have different presentation and determinants are range of socioeconomic, biological and environmental factors. The health system response to mental disease burden has not been adequate and as a consequence 76% to 85% of people with these disorders remain untreated.  These disorders contribute for significant morbidity, disability and even mortality amongst those affected. Due to the prevailing stigma, these disorders often are hidden by the society and consequently persons with mental disorders lead a poor quality of life.

Several studies have indicated the uneven availability of mental health services and human resource deficits (especially non-medical mental health professionals) and huge treatment gaps in mental health care (82% to 96%). The average mental health service load in the primary care general health services was largely provided by the private sector with significant contributions from non-formal service providers. Barriers to service access included lack of awareness, stigma, financial difficulties, distance, negligence of service providers and lack of support.

The opportunity:

Mental, Neurological and Substance use disorders (MNSUDs), currently included under the broader rubric of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are increasingly recognised as major public health problems contributing for a greater share of morbidity and disability. During the last five decades, the prevalence, pattern, characteristics and determinants of various mental illness has been researched upon.

Recognising the need for good quality, scientific and reliable timely detection, treatment and control health is essential to delineate the burden and impact of mental illness. There is a vacuum in the detection, treatment and control to unfurl macro and micro level issues from both demand and supply angles.

Even in contexts where treatment is available, widespread stigmatization faced by those living with mental illness means that they are often unwilling or unable to access care.

Few assessment studies of the mental health burden in India have revealed that the prevalence of major mental and behavioural disorders at any given point of time was estimated at 65 / 1000 population in all ages and both sexes. The present National Health Survey in India has estimated that nearly 10.7% of the Indian population suffers from a mental health illness, with the treatment gap still remaining at more than 80% across states.

Due to various responsible factors, self-harm caused deaths stands 8 among top 10 death causing factors in India.

We strive to focus on the needs of vulnerable groups like women, children, the elderly, migrants and persons living in strife prone areas.

Our approach

  • Is to support development of continuum of services that include early detection, treatment and rehabilitation, long – term care etc.
  • Is to improve detection methods, treatments and expand the access to care for people living with mental illness.
  • Is to support bold ideas to improve treatments and expand access to care for mental disorders, through transformational, aff­ordable and cost-e­ffective innovations that have the potential to be sustainable at scale.
  • Support comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings.
  • Implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health.
  • Identifying risk and protective factors involved in causation, recovery and outcome of different mental disorders.
  • Encourage the development of mobile applications and other IT technologies of mental health knowledge in general health care and in social development;
  • Integration of mental health screening abiIity and services into primary healthcare.
  • Developing treatment tools for use by non-specialists
  • Develop some apps are stand-alone programs that promise to improve memory or thinking skills.
  • Support interventions for cognitive issues, illness management, behavior, and health communication
  • More engaging ways to deliver therapies or skill development (for example, interactive formats or game-like approaches)
  • Predictive biomarkers and diagnostic tools for mental disorders/illness

What we are looking for:

Technical innovations that aims to facilitate the development and uptake of effective mental health innovations by enabling learning, enhancing linkages, disseminating knowledge and leveraging resources. Innovations should have the potential to improve turn-around time (from detection to control). Early stage feasibility, efficacy and effectivness studies are encouraged.

We will not consider funding for:

  • Any technology that is currently used in the developing world setting for improvement of diagnostic services
  • Point of care diagnostics instruments
  • New diagnostic laboratory instrumentation
  • Implementation or scaling of existing solutions
  • Innovations that cannot demonstrate impact on efficiency

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