Unmet needs in mental health care are high in low and middle-income countries like India. We propose recruiting community health workers (CHWs) to provide mental health services and address the treatment gap, but there is limited data available on the training needs for this potential role. The aim of this study is to help determine what type of formal mental health training and programming could most benefit CHWs in India. This was a cross sectional study design. Self-administered surveys were conducted amongst CHWs in the villages of Vadodara District, Gujarat, India. Statistical analyses included two tailed t-tests using Microsoft Excel 2011. The most common causes for mental illness were attributed to anxiety (61%) and brain disease (61%) followed by stress (45%) and alcohol use disorder (38%). CHWs were dismissive of faith healers ability to treat mental illness (72.9%) showing a strong approval for recommending psychiatric care for the mentally ill (84.4%). Over 50% of participants believed that mentally ill have a lower IQ and that they were unpredictable, but at the same time asserted that people with mental illness can live in the community (80.8%), and recover if given treatment and support (91.8%). Results are promising with CHWs displaying basic knowledge of the etiology and treatment of disease harboring positive attitudes towards psychiatrist’s ability to treat mental illness. Future direction should focus on training CHWs towards minimizing stigmatizing views and increasing their knowledge of mental illness in order to scale up mental health services in these low resource communities.
- Community health workers
- Mental health