Supporting Psychiatry and Social Inclusion in India

Through the support of a BU Foundation-India award, Drs. Henderson and Borba, along with research staff Tithi Baul and Senait Ghebrehiwet, attended the 2nd International Conference on Mental Health and Inclusive Development in Chennai, India on January 6-8, 2019. Hosted by The Banyan and BALM (The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health), the conference brought together mental health clinicians, policy makers, activists, and researchers from various parts of India and the world to discuss challenges in strengthening service delivery systems and to encourage development of models of care that drive social inclusion.

Pictured (L to R): Mr. Indu Prakash Singh (City Makers International), Prof. Sanjeev Jain (NIMHANS, Bangalore), Dr. KV Kishore Kumar (The Banyan), Dr. David Henderson (BMC/BUSM), Dr. Chitra Venkatesh (MEHAC Foundation), Ms. Tasqeen Macchiwala (Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives), Prof. Anirudh Kala (Mind Plus)The team also visited The Banyan’s emergency care and recovery services, which provide physical and mental health care to over 200 women with mental illness. Dr. KV Kishore Kumar, Director of The Banyan, described the organization’s approach to care, which values participation, personal responsibility, functionality, and hope.

Pictured (L to R): Dr. Mark Salzer (Temple University), Dr. Christina Borba, Dr. David Henderson, Tithi Baul, Senait Ghebrehiwet, Smriti Vallath (The Banyan), and Rishabh Anand (The Banyan)Following the conference, Dr. Borba and team traveled to Andhra Pradesh to visit Dr. Borba’s mentee, Nina Gummadi, who is currently completing a research project at HEAL (Health and Education for All) Paradise. Established in 1992, HEAL Paradise provides shelter, medical care, and education to over 500 orphans. HEAL Paradise comprises of learning and living spaces for children from preschool through to secondary school, as well as specialized learning spaces for vocation-oriented skills development and a rehabilitation center for the visually impaired. The facilities also include healing and recreational spaces, such as a health center, sport and art facilities, edible gardens, a senior volunteer residence, and community buildings.

Through the support of a U.S. Student Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship, Nina is conducting a mixed-methods study examining the mental health status of parentless children at HEAL Paradise. The qualitative phase will involve focus groups with staff of the orphanage to assess attitudes and barriers toward mental health care, as well as focus groups with children to gain an understanding of their emotional health. The quantitative phase involves a cross-sectional survey of mental health disorders among children at the orphanage. Study results will be presented to stakeholders including the orphanage administration, community providers, and local government to inform the implementation of mental health screening and intervention.

Photos: Rama Seshamma & Kotaiah Chunduri Skill Development Centre; Jasti Kameswari Preschool & Heal Primary School