Mumbai : Around 6,869 farmers and their family members from 14 districts in Vidarbha and Marathwada have been reported with depression since last October to March this year, of which Jalna and Beed are the worst-hit areas. This has come after the state health department initiated ‘Prerana Project’ in October wherein paramedical staff workers and counselors identify and report such cases and refer them to the district hospital or tertiary care depending on the severity of their depression.

In wake of the rising farmer suicides in the state, ‘Prerana Project’ was established with an objective of providing counseling and healthcare services for farmers. Following this, a module was prepared wherein state-level training was provided to paramedical staff workers who then trained district and taluka-level doctors who eventually gave training to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers. With this, there is 10,898 trained paramedical staff and 19,842 trained ASHA workers in 14 districts under this project who counsel farmers in order to ease their difficulties.

The workers and counselors ask the farmers and their families to fill up a questionnaire which involves questions such as whether they get adequate sleep, do they repeatedly think of committing suicide and whether they feel lot of anxiety and stress. Dr Manish Renghe who is attached with the mental health cell at Directorate of Health Services (DHS) said, “Through the questionnaire, we understand the severity of their depression. If they belong to the mild category, then they are reported to the nearest hospital wherein our counselors talk to them but if they belong to the severe category wherein they have suicidal tendencies, then they are asked to go the district hospital or tertiary care.”

The officials from the state health department stated that the counselors and paramedical staff workers ensure that the farmers and their families do not get more stressed and commit suicide because of health problems. “As a health department, we cannot solve their loan and revenue problems but we can ensure that they do not suffer from any health condition which can lead to stress. Our counselors talk to them and tries to ease their burden which they have been carrying it on their shoulders for so many years,” added Dr Renghe.

Cases reported among farmers and their families
at Out-Patient Department basis in 14 districts
Disease Cases reported from
October 2015- March 2016
Hypertension 70,756
Diabetes 44,906
Heart diseases 36195
Stroke/paralysis 578
Cancer 323
Dialysis 2787
Depression 6869
Addiction (Of smoke, alcohol) 37,484
Others 6,80,000

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