Project Burans is a non-profit partnership project working with communities to improve mental health care in Uttarakhand, northern India. Lead by the Emmanuel Hospital Association, with the Uttarakhand Community Global Health network, our principal focus is on offering support, relief and understanding around mental health in rural and impoverished communities who have least access to available services.
Our work is entirely community-based, and we are committed to building on existing resources so that community members can shape an understanding of psycho-social wellbeing which is appropriate for them, and have the capacity to be self-sufficient in their own mental health care.Our teams are responsive to the varying priorities and conditions of their communities. They regularly consult senior community members and leaders, hold workshops and discussions, counsel individuals with mental health problems, and facilitate the formation of self-help or support groups. Our standards, objectives and resources are the backbone of every team, but they often develop their own initiatives and evaluations enabling them to offer provision which is as suitable and flexible as possible to the communities they work with.
- We run training workshops with primary healthcare workers, such as ASHA and AWW, to help improve understanding and identification of mental illness, as well as making them aware of available services for referral. Team members and long term volunteers also receive training from professionals in active listening and problem solving, so they directly have the capacity to offer basic levels of counselling support to members of the community.
- Our team members conduct individual visits and treatment plans with those experiencing mental health problems, to help support what recovery means to them. This may be through improving understanding of the problem, promoting social inclusion, joining support groups, counselling, livelihood enhancing practices or referral to receive further treatment. Overall it aims to treat people on an individual basis, and work with them to overcome the disabling aspects of mental health problems.
- Community sensitisation and engagement
- Teams will regularly hold discussions with community members, sometimes individually but often as a group, to start a conversation about mental health and to build an understanding of mental illness which fits with the rest of their knowledge base. This is also a useful means of scoping out individuals which may be experiencing mental health problems.
- Youth engagement
- Education is key to instilling an awareness of mental health from an early age. We work with schools to introduce concepts of mental health to teachers and students, as well as running youth resilience groups for children that may not be attending school.
- Self-help/support groups
- We facilitate development of peer to peer networks to bring together members of the community with a direct focus on supporting each other in any of the wide number of issues that can relate to mental health. This can be for people experiencing mental health problems or for caregivers, and can take the form of discussion and sharing, or pooling money for emergency loans.
- Livelihood schemes aim to provide a basic but autonomous means of income for those who might struggle to join or restart existing streams of work. We have trialed several mechanisms, including chicken farming.