Knowledge of and Attitudes Towards Mental Illness Among ASHA and Anganwadi Workers in Vadodara District, Gujarat State, India

  • Qainat N. ShahEmail author
  • Pooja A. Dave
  • Daniella A. Loh
  • Raghu K. Appasani
  • Craig L. Katz
Original Paper


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 India 



We are grateful to The MINDS Foundation, the Department of Psychiatry at SVU, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Summer Program in Global Health for their support; and the Department of Population Health Science and Policy at Mount Sinai for their expertise and guidance in statistical analysis; and the villages and its members for their time and cooperation to this study.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. This work was supported by the Program for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Qainat N. Shah declares she has no conflict of interest. Pooja A. Dave declares she has no conflict of interest. Dr. Daniella Loh declares she has no conflict of interest. Dr. Raghu Appasani declares he has no conflict of interest. Dr. Craig Katz declares she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qainat N. Shah
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pooja A. Dave
    • 1
  • Daniella A. Loh
    • 1
  • Raghu K. Appasani
    • 2
  • Craig L. Katz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.MINDS FoundationVadodaraIndia

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