Therapy by Any Other Name

Low-cost program aims to reduce stigma, treat depression in developing world
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Mar 12, 2008 6:56 PM CDT
Resource-starved clinics in India are swamped addressing physical ailments, like a malaria epidemic shown here. Patients, too, are reluctant to bring up mental illnesses because they fear being stigmatized.   (Magnum Photos)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – A program that treats depression in Indian villages is seeking to transform mental health care throughout the developing world, the New York Times reports. Bypassing expensive doctors, the clinics train laypeople to avoid talk of mental illness—a shameful stigma in many cultures—by screening for "strain" and "tension," and offering patients therapy, yoga, and medication.

Long labeled an ailment of the wealthy, depression afflicts about 20% of residents in poor countries—the same as in the West—but up to 90% of victims receive no treatment. Severe depression can be as disabling as physical diseases, doctors say, but the treatment remains low-tech and affordable. “The core resource is humans,” says one psychologist.