In India, there is only 1 psychiatrist for every 400,000 people, according to the Indian government. The Lancet study involved about 2,600 people in the state of Goa with common mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. About half were assigned case managers that had taken a two-month training course in mental health counseling. All of the patients in the study got whatever routine care was provided by private doctors or public clinics. And half of them had 6 to 12 meetings with the lay therapists. The therapists talked with them about their illnesses and problems, taught them coping mechanisms such as breathing exercises, and in some cases offered psychotherapy.
In the public health clinics, 66 percent of the people who talked to the lay therapists recovered after six months, compared to 43 percent of people who got the standard care. The researchers call this "modest evidence of a beneficial effect" of using lay counselors.