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Exploring the potential of mental health care services using digital technologies in Bangladesh

Highlights

Digital technology has the scope to improve mental health care pathway by increasing MH literacy, health-seeking behavior, and service availability


To integrate digital technology to strengthen mental health services, tailored services, increased network coverage are required


Structured usage of social media and capacity building of the non-health professionals are recommended to strengthen the mental health system



Abstract

Background

Bangladesh is a lower-middle-income country affected by a severe lack of mental health service availability due to a scarcity of mental health experts, limited mental health literacy, and community stigma. In other low and middle-income countries, the online provision of mental health care services has addressed issues affecting service availability, accessibility, mass awareness of services, and stigma.


Objective

The current study sought to understand stakeholders' perceptions of the potential of digital media-based mental health care delivery in strengthening Bangladesh's mental health system.


Method

Online in-depth interviews were conducted with seven psychiatrists and eleven people with lived experiences of mental health issues. In addition, two online focus groups were conducted with ten psychologists and nine mental health entrepreneurs. A thematic analysis of the audio transcriptions was used to identify themes.


Result

Stakeholders perceived that the benefits of digital media-based mental health services included the potential of increasing the awareness, availability, and accessibility of mental health services. Participants recommended: the rehabilitation of existing pathways; the use of social media to raise awareness; and the implementation of strategies that integrate different digital-based services to strengthen the mental health system and foster positive mental health-seeking behaviors.


Conclusion

Growing mental health awareness, combined with the appropriate use of digital media as a platform for distributing information and offering mental services, can help to promote mental health care. To strengthen mental health services in Bangladesh, tailored services, increased network coverage, and training are required on digital mental health.


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