Effectiveness of NIMHANS ECHO blended tele-mentoring model on Integrated Mental Health and Addiction for counsellors in rural and underserved districts of Chhattisgarh, India

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The present study was conducted to ascertain the effectiveness of Project ECHO, a Hub and Spokes tele-mentoring model to bridge the urban-rural divide in mental health and addiction care in the context of a developing country like India. The Counsellors from 11 rural and underserved districts of Chhattisgarh were periodically connected to NIMHANS multidisciplinary specialists by smartphone app and underwent virtual mentoring to learn and translate "best practices" in Mental health and Addiction by using "patient-centric learning", a core component of NIMHANS ECHO model. The outcome evaluation was modelled on Moore's evaluation framework focusing on participant engagement, satisfaction, learning, competence and performance. Over the period of 6 months i.e. 12 tele-ECHO clinics, 41 patients case summaries were discussed by the Counsellors with NIMHANS Hub Specialists. Half of the counsellors could join >80% clinics and overall there were no drop-outs. There was a significant increase in learning and self-confidence after six months. The participants liked "relevance of the courses to clinical practices". "group based discussions" and "a reduction in professionals isolation". The results indicate promise of the NIMHANS ECHO tele-mentoring model as one with potential for capacity-building in mental health and addiction for remote and rural areas by leveraging technology.