Last Updated:  21/04/2022

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Project Pitch By: Universal Versatile Society


Proposed Project Title

Mental Health Program for Suicide Prevention of Farmers


Thematic Area

Mental Health Program (Others)

Sub Thematic Area

Not Applicable

Project Synopsis

The project aims to reduce the suicidal tendencies among the farmers as well as to improve mental health care and rehabilitation services. The project aims to actualize the goal by spreading awareness, making assessments and adopting interventions to prevent suicide and promote mental health.

Overview of the Proposed Project

Estimated Budget
INR 0.3 Cr - INR 0.6 Cr
Proposed Location
Vidarbha, Maharashtra

Key Project Partners
Government,Academic Institute,Gram Panchayat

Project Status


Beneficiary Type (Primary): General
Beneficiary Type (Secondary):
Estimated No. of Beneficiaries: above 10000 Individuals
Status of Baseline Survey: Already Done

Proposed Project Description

Vidarbha region in the State of Maharashtra is an agriculture-intensive region, which has witnessed high farmer suicide rates in the recent past. The Mental Health Program aims to improve mental health conditions by providing care and rehabilitation services to the farmers. The Program has been designed to spread awareness, make assessments, and enable the adoption of interventions to promote mental health; especially preventing suicidal tendencies among the farmers and inducing resilience to economic, social, and cultural problems. Maharashtra, one of the largest states in India is an agrarian economy that houses the largest agricultural population in the country. Farmers in this region play a very important role in the configuration and maintenance of the Indian agricultural sector. Given the intensive long hours of labor work, the mental health of the farmers is a concern. Alleviating this issue are the conditions of poverty, insufficient state aid, and climatic conditions. These factors have led to an increase in depression among farmers in the recent past.

The program with a duration of two years to cover 128 villages (expected beneficiaries of approximately 38,000+ households) in the Vidarbha region for the proposed Mental Health Program these regions are sensitive to climatic changes and its adverse effect is further aggravated by deficient infrastructure. This has led to low crop production. The cultural impact of these factors on society is the exploitation of farmers by crop distributors, family issues, social unrest, and low inclination towards literacy. On an individual psychological level, the lack of education, medical care, lack of familial support, and accessibility to quality resources has deepened the farmer’s mental distress. This cycle has led to low morale and increased farmer suicide death rates in the region. This has directly impacted the degradation of the environment and social unrest, thereby creating a dwindling cycle.


The challenge to mental health awareness and remedy for farmers in distress is the stigma associated with mental health in Indian culture which prevents people from seeking help. This project is focused on public health activities for the detection, treatment, and monitoring of risk factors, and carrying real epidemiological data to study mental health diseases due to climate change.

Program Objectives:

  • To establish a program based on public health policies of inter-sectoral action that guides the interventions of the State and society as a whole to promote mental health. This would contribute to the prevention and cure of suicidal behavior of farmers in the Maharashtra region.
  • The objective is to improve timely and effective access to comprehensive mental health care services for people at the risk or with a history of suicidal behavior.
  • With the aim to improve health, the Program will target all relevant partners at the local level. Numerous health problems are too complex to be solved only by health services. Besides this, solutions for health problems could be found only at the places of their origins – local environments where people are working and living.
  • The partnership with the local community influences changes in people's behavior, contributing to the development of community health through changes in the environment, minimization of health risks, and development of local initiatives for employment, prevention of other, numerous problems influencing local health. Education will be organized through the engagement of villages through assemblies, talks, street shows, etc. to build awareness
  • Health determinants and population health assessment and monitoring
  • Information and knowledge in public health
  • Health promotion and community actions
  • The participants in educative assemblies/talks will be physicians from primary health care centers, representatives of local governments (municipalities), representatives of educational sectors (teachers from primary and secondary schools), representatives of the UVS team, and representatives of local media.

Project Assessment

The project is focused on public health activities for the detection, treatment, and monitoring of risk factors, and to carry real epidemiological data on the mental health of the farmers in Maharashtra. Through various programs and interactions with villagers by the UVS team in the last 15 years, it has been observed that there has been uncertainty of specific solutions for the depression and mental health among farmers in the region. To address emergent issues government schemes, debt exemptions, and farming interventions proved to be futile to heal the situation.

In 2018-19, UVS was encouraged by Dr. Awchar’s efforts in the psychiatric rehabilitation of farmers in the nearby district of Buldhana, Maharashtra. While working as a Psychiatrist in Civil Hospital Buldhana, Dr. Awchar surveyed 2000+ beneficiaries through a camp and treated them successfully. To lead the project for the masses in an effective way UVS decided to initiate a pilot project for the Washim district, modeled upon Dr. Awchar’s work in the Buldhana District. UVS with support from a team of experts comprising Dr. Awchar, the UVS Team, and volunteers commenced the pilot survey.

Following were the key activities carried out as part of the pilot survey:

  • Adopted a village to get their 100% screening by visiting each household
  • Developed the PHQ-12 questionnaire for collating the responses from the preliminary survey of the patients
  • Approached the MSW College “Saraswati Samaj Karya Mahavidyalaya” and motivated the students for this task as volunteers
  • Training sessions conducted by Psychiatrists and Psychologists for volunteers. The training focus was on questions to be asked, fill a questionnaire, tracing the depressed patients through their facial expressions, body language, family background, and finally through their responses to PHQ-12
  • Organized orientation program for the entire village that was adopted with an objective to clarify the plan, sensitize them about the importance of mental health and necessitate their involvement
  • Volunteers conducted the screening part by visiting a home in the adopted village. Almost 1000 beneficiaries were surveyed and found 137 in mild depression, 53 with medium 8 with acute depression. Depressed patients are referred to the civil government hospital for treatment.

Based on the pilot program’s outcome and considering the participation of beneficiaries in the program, positive feedback from local authorities gave us the confidence to expand the MHP to 128 villages covered under Washim Taluka in Maharashtra.


Salient Features

  1. Comprehensive Mental Health Program to stop farmer's suicide crisis in Vidarbha
  2. Collaboration with the Civil Hospital, Washim for getting free treatment to the beneficiaries
  3. Using digital format of checking the depression level of beneficiaries which facilitates screening in an ineffective way

About Universal Versatile Society

Universal Versatile Society (UVS) is a UNEP and UNCCD accredited organization having special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC. Since its inception, UVS is actively engaged in Environment, Education, Health, and Women Empowerment thematic areas through people’s participation in Washim district, Maharashtra. The work of the organization is accompanied by sound fieldwork, research, and monitoring of each activity that was undertaken. With the collection of appropriate data, the organization puts an idea before the people through awareness drives.


To contribute to the prevention of farmer’s suicide and its plight through the provision of basic climate change education and the promotion of sustainable agriculture practices and mental health, leading to wellbeing and sustainable development.


Dedicated to serving the community, nation, and world by connecting the donors with community-based projects, and coordinating the available resources and expertise to promote sustainable development in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals. The main activities that UVS has undertaken are agriculture assistance to farmers, a counseling center for women, vocational training and self-help group formation for women empowerment, providing low-cost computer and technology education, appealing for youth building by providing advanced level competitive exams coaching, creating awareness about climate change, etc.


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