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CREA: Trauma Management & Mental Health Counseling for RMG Workers (T2MHC)

Dhaka, BangladeshDhaka, Bangladesh
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We propose setting up a mental health clinic for RMG workers, where clinical psychologists would carry out psychometric assessments and offer psychotherapeutic assistance to them.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if RMG workers have access to holistic trauma management and mental health services to improve their wellbeing and productivity?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There is no adequate service delivery facility available in Bangladesh to address and treat industrial trauma, including that of RMG workers who, however, have experienced repeated traumatic incidents in the recent past. Also, the Bangladesh RMG sector has been witnessing frequent labor unrest, which, according to research and media reports, has a root, among others, in the psychological and behavioral status of the working class.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The project aims to create access of RMG workers to mental healthcare services by setting up a service unit entirely dedicated for them. The unit will be outreached at a location most suitable for and accessible to the beneficiaries, e.g. in one of the industrial/export processing zones near Dhaka. The project will collaborate with workers’ and employers’ associations, government authorities, entrepreneurs, and media to establish a referral network for offering psychotherapeutic services to RMG workers suffering from industrial trauma and other mental/behavioral disorders. The unit also will carry action research to map the mental health status of the target population and build its future endeavors based on the findings.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Many RMG workers have trauma or other mental illhealth that significantly hampers their normal, productive life. Their supervisors observe the symptoms and bring them to the attention of the management who refers them to the CREA unit for assessment and, if needed, treatment. Also, the workers themselves can approach the unit through their labor organizations. After screening, the clinical psychologist draws up a session plan for the individual, who, if needed, may also be referred to a psychiatrist if the symptoms call for that. This unit will be the first ever facility providing mental healthcare services exclusively to RMG workers and is deemed to boost the overall welfare and productivity of the target population.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In the last 12 years, 1,841 workers were killed in RMG sector accidents and 9,595 injured, many losing their ability to work. Trauma and PTSD bar many survivors from leading normal life and getting re-employed. After the Rana Plaza collapse, clinical psychologists helped hospitalized victims voluntarily. But there have been scarce follow-up interventions and whatever has been done remains inadequate. CREA intends to bridge that gap. Also, there is an important link between mental wellbeing and productivity. This project by helping RMG workers resolve psychological and behavioral issues will contribute to overall wellbeing and productivity of the sector. Finally, the project will also run an action research to assess improvements against the interventions provided, conceptualize and plan scaled up interventions, and recommend policy and national-level initiatives to better the situation.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The project will: 1) make mental health services available to RMG workers numbered at 4.2 million; 2) treat individuals affected in industrial accidents; 3) prevent progression from normal stress reaction to acute stress disorder and PTSD; 4) prevent development of delayed onset psychological disorders; 5) promote psychosocial functioning; 6) boost workers' wellbeing; & 7) identify and tailor mental health services for them. Our strategy is to get govt, employers and unions involved, and tap companies’ CSR funds to launch and run the specialized mental health service unit for RMG workers.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The project will build networks with employers’ and employees’ associations (e.g., BGMEA, BKMEA), factories/companies and buying houses, regulatory bodies and authorities (e.g., BEPZA, DEPZ) rationalizing the intervention. It is estimated that the projected unit will be funded in two major streams: (1) Donations (e.g. under CSR funds) through trade bodies and associations, and (2) Service sales to RMG units and companies.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

While some international donors and nongovernmental organizations came forward to provide psychological support, the operations petered out after some time. For instance, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), with support from World Health Organization, provided psychological first-aid, counseling and medicine to around 4,000 survivors after the collapse, but the operation ended on 30 November 2013 in the absence of funds.

Founding Story

CREA was founded in 1999 initially to serve substance-dependant people and their families by offering a culture-sensitive and low-cost scientific treatment program. CREA expanded its activities to HIV/AIDS and mental health by turning into a Society in 2004 and set up PRIO, a mental health clinic where a pool of 30+ trained psychologists/clinical psychologists provide counseling and psychotherapeutic services. PRIO has 3 specific objectives: 1) To promote proper understanding of health concept among general population; 2) To create enabling environment to access psychological services, and 3) To influence implementation and revision of mental health policy.


1. Team Leader: Tarun Kanti Gayen, part time, clinical psychologist 2. Psychiatrist: Professor Dr. Ahasanul Habib, part time 3-4. Clinical Psychologists: MSC, MPhil in clinical psychology 5. Coordinator: BBA/MBA in charge of communication, networking, marketing, and secretarial support 6. Receptionist cum Office Assistant The 110-man CREA staff, its physicians and psychiatrists will work as the support staff until the project is scaled up and turns into a regular program.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]


Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Advocate/Organizer, Non-profit Staff, Researcher, Other [please specify].

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Brands, Children, Corporations, Factory Workers, Factory Owners, Law Enforcement, Policymakers, Researchers, Women, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Essential Services (i.e. Healthcare and Education), Gender Equality, Anti-forced Labor or Anti-Human Trafficking, Disaster and Humanitarian Relief.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Advocacy, Capacity Building, Standards.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

I have relayed the opportunities to friends and colleagues.

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

We have discussed our idea with a number of stakeholders and will work to arrive at an industrywide/national consensus.