Impact of simple conventional and Telehealth solutions on improving mental health in Afghanistan.

Publication Date: 
Nov 01, 2016

For more than a century Afghanistan has been unstable, facing decades of war, social problems, and intense poverty. As a result, many of the population suffer from a variety of mental health problems. The Government recognises the situation and has prioritised mental health, but progress is slow and services outside of Kabul remain poor. An international collaborative implemented a project in Badakshan province of Afghanistan using conventional and simple low-cost e-Health solutions to address the four most common issues: depression, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse. Conventional town hall meetings informed community members to raise awareness and knowledge. In addition, an android-based mobile application used the World Health Organization's Mental Health Gap Action Programme guidelines and protocols to: collect information from community healthcare workers; provide referral services to patients; provide blended learning to improve providers' mental health knowledge, skills, and practice; and to provide store-and-forward and live consultations. Preliminary evaluation of the intervention shows enhanced access to care for remote communities, decreased stigma, and improved quality of health services. Primary care workers are also able to bridge the gap in consultations for rural and remote communities, connecting them with specialists and providing better access to care.