Health Foundation Nepal’s initiatives to improve access to mental health care in rural Nepal


Health Foundation Nepal (HFN), a non-profit organization registered in the USA and Nepal was established by young health care professionals who believed in community based comprehensive health care in 2013. HFN pioneers in community based approaches to provide free health care to the people in underserved communities in Nepal. As of 2022, besides other general health care described elsewhere, HFN has provided community based maternal mental health care to more than 2,500 mothers and ongoing comprehensive mental health care to more than 80 people with serious mental illness. 

Integrated mental health care, since 2017: Nepal has mental health service gap of about 90% and the Dang district with population of 600,000 had no access to mental health care before the HFN initiative in 2017. The innovative program designed by the HFN leaders provides high quality mental health care through psychosocial counselors and primary healthcare providers working in the field, and psychiatrists and psychologists volunteering remotely. Some of the major projects initiated by HFN are:

A. Smile Mothers Campaign (maternal mental health program):

Through this project, each pregnant and postpartum mothers in the project communities gets evaluation for any mental illnesses and those with any illness get regular counseling, psychiatric medications and referral to higher centers based on their needs.  

B. Smile Aama-Ba Campaign ( mental health program for senior citizens) since 2022:

The project aims to minimize loneliness and improve general wellbeing and mental health of the people, 60 years and above, in the HFN project communities. Through the project, each senior citizen gets screening for mental illness and appropriate counseling and medication treatment depending on the needs. Similarly, wellness clubs are being established in different communities targeting the senior citizens to promote general wellbeing and minimize loneliness. 

C. Psychiatric care and rehabilitation center since 2019:

This center is providing basic physiological needs, primary health care, psychiatric care and psychosocial rehabilitation services to the people with serious mental illness who have been living on the streets or are restrained by family inside the house. In collaboration with another local organization in Dang, Nepal, HFN has been providing clinical services to the people residing at the center since 2019. 

D. Community mental health awareness and school mental health program since 2019:

Two-four times a month

E. Integrated Community Mental Health Center, since 2022:

The center coordinates all the mental health services of HFN in Nepal. Besides our community based programs, we have individual, group and family counseling to address mental illnesses in our project communities, mainly in Dang district of Nepal. The center also provides psychiatric services through a trained medical officer with the regular supervision and consultation from psychiatrists. 

Our mental health team

Director: Dr. Shreedhar Paudel (Psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA) 

Codirector: Dr. Sushrusha Arjyal (Psychiatrist, Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina, USA)

Medical Director: Dr. Saraswati Dhungana (Psychiatrist, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Kathmandu, Nepal) 

Psychosocial counseling Director: Ms. Anuradha Acharya (Psychologist, Kumudini Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal)

Program Manager: Mr. Prayash Gautam, MPH (Public Health Professional)

Research Coordinator: Dr. Sudhamsu Gautam (Medical Officer)

Medical Officer: 

Community mental health coordinator: Ms. Bhumika GM (Psychosocial Counselor)

Psychosocial Counselor: Ms. Yashoda Oli

Psychiatric Nurse: Ms. Purnima Poudel

Community Mental Health Workers (CMHW)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to our email updates