Empowerment of Lay Mental Health Workers and Junior Psychologists Online in a Task-Shared, Rural Setting in Kerala, India

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Clinical Psychology, Mental Health Action Trust, Calicut, India

2 Athena Institute, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Mental Health Action Trust, Calicut, India


Patients with severe mental health issues who live in isolated rural areas are difficult to reach and treat. Providing effective treatment is difficult because mental health problems are complex and require specialized knowledge from a range of professionals. Task-sharing with lay mental health workers (LMHWs) has potential but requires proper training and supervision to be effective. This article reports on the challenges and facilitators experienced in empowering LMHWs in their role, with the help of a technology supported supervision group. The study sought to understand the functioning of the Empowering Supervisory Group (ESG) in the context of junior psychologists and LMHWs in rural India, and investigate how they experienced it by exploring challenges, lessons and empowerment.
Qualitative analysis of interviews with the 22 ESG participants and their supervisors.
A total of three discrete phases of supervision were identified where supervisors responded to the changing needs of the group. This began with building trust at a baseline level, tackling issues with competence and autonomy and finally experiencing meaning and impact through self-determination. The experience of empowerment even in an online setting was very beneficial given the challenges of working in rural areas.
Empowerment based supervision of LMHWs and junior psychologists online enables a level of engagement that positions them to engage in community mental health practices with greater independence and confidence. 


Articles in Press, Corrected Proof
Available Online from 02 April 2024
  • Receive Date: 22 July 2022
  • Revise Date: 13 July 2023
  • Accept Date: 30 March 2024
  • First Publish Date: 02 April 2024