Chhindwara: LiveLoveLaugh (LLL), a charitable trust founded by Deepika Padukone, has extended the reach of its rural mental health programme to the Chhindwara district in Madhya Pradesh. The programme supports 1200 Persons With Mental Illness (PWMI) and their caregivers residing in 131 villages within the Sausar Block of the district.
LLL’s rural programme already operates in six locations across three States, impacting over 10,000 people in rural communities. The locations are Davangere, Gulbarga, Mysore (Karnataka), Lakshmipur, Narayanpatna (Odisha), and Thiruvallur (Tamil Nadu).
According to the National Mental Health Survey, Madhya Pradesh State Report 2015-161, the lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in the State was 16.7 per cent, with a treatment gap of 91 per cent.
“Expanding our outreach to Madhya Pradesh underscores our intent to serve more communities by scaling our programme interventions and building on existing impact. We are committed to creating awareness, enhancing accessibility, and ensuring the affordability of mental health services nationwide, particularly within India’s rural communities. We want every community to benefit from our proven rural programme model,” said Anisha Padukone, CEO, LiveLoveLaugh.
LLL’s Chhindwara expansion is designed to address the urgent need for mental health support in underserved areas with limited access to reliable information. Here, mental illness is often misunderstood as a curse or linked to demonic possession or karmic retribution for past misdeeds. Faith healers are relied upon for treatment, leading to neglect and human rights abuses, as family members with mental illness are abandoned at religious sites.
LiveLoveLaugh has partnered with Gramin Adiwasi Samaj Vikas Sansthan (GASVS) for the Chhindwara intervention. GASVS works with marginalised societal groups, especially those with physical and psychosocial problems.
Highlighting the plight of PWMIs and caregivers in Chhindwara district, Ajay Dhawle, Director, GASVS said, “Due to prevailing stigma within the community, PWMIs and their families frequently face social exclusion. To avoid discrimination and being marginalised, PWMIs and their caregivers often conceal their condition, resorting primarily to faith healers for private treatment. Numerous research studies have shown that approaching these faith healers as the initial source of help for mental illness tends to exacerbate and complicate the condition of PWMIs. We are confident that our collaboration with LLL will help change the situation for individuals and families who find themselves in such distress.”
Dr. Shyam Bhat, Chairperson of LiveLoveLaugh, said: “Supporting people with mental illness through awareness and treatment, including pharmacological and psychosocial support services, is critical. It is also essential to work with carers and the community by increasing their involvement as catalysts for overall well-being. LiveLoveLaugh’s rural mental health model is a collaborative effort with grassroots organisations and local communities, offering holistic support and treatment to individuals with mental illness and their caregivers.”
Over the years, LLL has implemented various targeted initiatives to address India’s urgent requirement for mental health interventions. In addition to the rural programme, the organisation has focused on key areas such as awareness and destigmatisation campaigns, mental health education for adolescents, research, capacity-building, and funding free counselling helplines.
By 2027, LLL aims to reach 40,000 beneficiaries in rural communities, expanding its impact significantly in the next five years.