SUMMARY During the last five years efforts have been directed to understand the needs of the mentally ill persons residing in the rural areas. An outcome of our work involving 60,000 people living in a geographically defined area in Ambala District of Haryana has resulted in a realistic model for wider application in the country. The project work has led to the development of a number of research instruments and data regarding the prevalence of mental illness in the rural areas. A method for identifying mentally ill and to study the community attitudes has also been developed. The preparation of the Manual and simple training programmes has been a significant contribution. Knowledge regarding the practical problems of supervision and support of peripheral health workers in carrying out mental health work has been gained. The formation of the Mental Health Association by the village leaders has enhanced the community awareness and involvement in the ongoing programme of care. It is hoped that the experiences and the results of the above research work would act as a stimulant for similar experiments and further refining of the needed expertise and data for making mental health care a reality at the primary health care in the near future.