Operational challenges in the implementation of an anti-stigma campaign in rural Andhra Pradesh, India.
BACKGROUND Despite of literature available on mental health-related stigma interventions, little is reported about the operational challenges faced during the planning, implementation and evaluation phases. METHODS The Systematic Medical Appraisal, Referral and Treatment Mental Health Project was implemented in 42 villages of the West Godavari district in India. Andersen's Behavioural Model for Health Services Use was adopted to understand the factors influencing anti-stigma campaign delivery and the strategies identified to overcome these challenges. RESULTS The challenges faced during the planning and implementation phase included distance and time taken for travel by the field staff, inadequate mental health services and infrastructure within communities, engagement of community with the field staff and community's poor mental health literacy and knowledge. Strategies used to overcome these challenges were regular engagement with community stakeholders, understanding mental health literacy levels and seeking inputs from the community regarding campaign design, organizing live drama shows at community's preferred time and place and screening of recorded drama video clips where lives shows were difficult. The evaluation phase posed challenges such as non-availability of key stakeholders and inadequate time and funding to evaluate the entire study population. CONCLUSION The reported findings can help in planning and scaling up of the anti-stigma campaign in large trials in similar settings.