MSF scientific survey: 45% of Kashmiri population experiencing mental distress

Integrated and decentralised prevention, care and treatment programme urgently needed

Jammu and Kashmir: Nearly 1.8 million adults (45% of the population) in the Kashmir Valley show symptoms of significant mental distress according to a comprehensive mental health survey conducted by the medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) between October and December 2015. The research was done in collaboration with the Department of Psychology, Kashmir University and the Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (IMHANS).

According to that survey, a research summary of which was released today at a symposium on mental health held at the Government Medical College in Srinagar, 41% of people exhibit symptoms of probable depression, 26% show symptoms of probable anxiety and 19% show symptoms of probable Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The full report was released on 25 May on the MSF India website.

“This survey provides, for the first time, an insight into the level of mental distress in all ten districts of Kashmir Valley. It was only made possible through a fruitful collaboration throughout the process,” says Dr Tambri Housen, MSF’s principal researcher. “The next step would be to use this data and work together with key stakeholders and mental health experts to tailor healthcare services to meet the mental health needs of people in Kashmir.”

The survey covered 5428 households in 399 villages across all ten districts of the Kashmir Valley, and was complemented by a series of in-depth focus group discussions.

“One crucial outcome of the focus group discussions held in each district was a clear gap in accessibility to mental health services. The main barrier to seeking treatment included lack of awareness of available mental health services. Other commonly mentioned obstacles included distance, travel time, and associated costs necessary to reach health services.”

The research summary underscores an urgent need to develop a comprehensive, integrated and decentralised mental health programme in the Kashmir Valley aiming at both prevention and treatment. The recommendations listed in the report call for expansion of mental healthcare services and increased sensitisation in the community for prevention and care of mental distress.

“How to offer culturally appropriate, effective and acceptable mental health interventions is a question for all service providers, experts and policy makers,” says Magali Roudaut, Director, MSF India. “There is unanimous consensus among all concerned in favour of decentralising mental health services across the valley. We hope these recommendations, born of such an in-depth scientific study, will help shape the state response with specific interventions to the greater benefit of populations in need.”

Read the research summary

For more information, contact: Malika Gupta, +91 9650807982,

About MSF

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, exclusion from healthcare and natural disasters. MSF offers assistance to people based on need and irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. When MSF witnesses serious acts of violence, neglected crises, or obstructions to its activities, the organisation may speak out about this.

MSF in India

MSF has worked in India since 1999, providing free-of-charge essential healthcare to people in remote areas, and specialist care for people affected by HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, acute febrile illnesses, tuberculosis, kala azar and sexual and gender-based violence. We also respond to natural disasters and other emergencies, provide mental healthcare and advocate for the development of more effective and affordable medicines to improve access to treatment for people everywhere. We currently run projects in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana and West Bengal. MSF was awarded the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 1996 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

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