Longitudinal assessment of an anti-stigma campaign related to common mental disorders in rural India

Pallab K. Maulik*, Siddhardha Devarapalli, Sudha Kallakuri, Anadya Prakash Tripathi, Mirja Koschorke, Graham Thornicroft

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background Stigma related to mental health and lack of trained mental health professionals is a major cause for an increased treatment gap, particularly in rural India. The Systematic Medical Appraisal, Referral and Treatment (SMART) Mental Health project delivered a complex intervention involving task sharing, an anti-stigma campaign and use of technology-based, decision-support tools to empower primary care workers to identify and manage depression, anxiety, stress and suicide risk.Aims The aim of this article is to report changes in stigma perceptions over three time points in the rural communities where the anti-stigma campaign was conducted.Method A multimedia-based anti-stigma campaign was conducted over a 3-month period in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Following that, the primary care-based mental health service was delivered for 1 year. The anti-stigma campaign was evaluated in two villages and data were captured at three time points over a 24-month period (N = 1417): before and after delivery of the campaign and after completion of the health services delivery intervention. Standardised tools captured data on knowledge, attitude and behaviour towards mental health as well as perceptions related to help seeking for mental illnesses.Results Most knowledge, attitude and behaviour scores improved over the three time points. Overall mean scores on stigma perceptions related to help seeking improved by-0.375 (minimum/maximum of-2.7/2.4, s.d. 0.519, P < 0.001) during this time. Loss to follow-up was 10%.Conclusions The data highlight the positive effects of an anti-stigma campaign over a 2-year period.Declaration of interest None.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-95
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • community based
  • India
  • longitudinal analysis
  • mental health services
  • Stigma


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