Over 100 farmers in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra are being counselled for clinical depression by the public health department of the state. In the past three months, about 200 farmers and their families have been diagnosed with clinical depression in the draught-hit region.
These counselling sessions are a part of the Prakalp Prerna project started by the state government to help farmers overcome depression and curb the number of suicides being committed, especially in 14 districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha regions.
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Psychological health screening of 821 farmers has been conducted in Aurangabad since January, and 180 have shown signs of depression like lack of energy, disturbed sleep, anxiety, lack of appetite, lack of interest in day-to-day activities, etc. They have been prescribed medicines for 15-30 days and are also being counselled by trained psychiatrists. Those displaying suicidal tendencies are under a close watch and some are being referred to the district hospital. 179 farmers are addicted to alcohol and tobacco.
“ASHA workers conducted a detailed survey on the farmers in the last three months. They sought information such as crop failure, loan details, alcohol consumption and health issues. Gauging by the number of questions answered in ‘yes’ and ‘no’, a scale of ‘severe’, ‘moderate’ and ‘mild mental’ conditions was mapped,” K T Chavan, deputy director of public health services in Aurangabad circle told The Times of India.
Farmers are also informed about the different government schemes that are available to help them. The health department team visits them twice every month to address the issue. According to K T Chavan, a budget of Rs. 53 lakh has been sanctioned to the Aurangabad circle for this project.