For a revolutionary, Deepali Vishwakarma is more quiet and reflective than you might expect. She’s in her 30s, small, with a round face that holds intense brown eyes and a shy grin.
Vishwakarma is a lay counselor in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India — a well-trained community member who goes out daily to fight what novelist William Styron once called a “howling tempest in the brain.” She’s part of an effort by the Indian nonprofit group Sangath to provide mental health treatment to poor people in India and to show that people with much less training than a psychiatrist or psychologist can deliver effective care. Vishwakarma had 40 hours of training for her role as a counselor.
So her counseling is definitely revolutionary. And some mental health observers wonder if it might work in the U.S.
The approach has American proponents such as Alan Kazdin, former head of the American Psychological Association. “Seventy percent of the people in this country who need psychiatric services receive nothing,” he says. That number comes from several studies, including two published in the Annual Review of Public Health and JAMA Internal Medicine. “The truth is that today, we are not treating everyone in need, and we cannot do so if we insist on one-to-one therapy, at a clinic, with a mental health professional.” Kazdin is an expert on parenting but has been interested in lay counselors as a way of expanding access to care for years.
Read the whole story: NPR