Widespread use of mobile technology holds a lot of promise for mental health service delivery in regions where mental health resources are scarce and the treatment gap is large. The felt needs of the clients, and the patterns and barriers of mobile usage must be understood before some intervention can be planned. The study presented in this paper was designed to fill this gap in the region of Rajasthan, India. The study was conducted in three tertiary care hospitals. Clients utilizing services for Severe Mental Illnesses (SMIs) were the participants of the study. Information about ownership, usage patterns and barriers to accessing mobile technology and felt needs in terms of mental health services that could be delivered through mobile phones were sought from the participants. The typical respondents in all three centres were middle-aged, married, Hindu males belonging to lower socio-economic strata from rural background. Seventy two to 92% of participants had access to mobile phone. The most preferred mode of service delivery was through calls. Helpline for crisis resolution and telephonic follow-up of stable patients emerged as the most felt need of the participants. Barriers to mobile phones usage included affordability, lack of necessity, poor signal. In conclusion, the study shows that the access to mobile phones amongst clients receiving services for SMI is widespread and offers new opportunities in service delivery in the region.
Keywords: Felt needs; India; SMI; Service delivery; mHealth.
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