India is not new to me. I was born in India, lived there for 8 years of my life, and have gone many, many times for visits. As I have gotten older and become a citizen of both the US and India, I have started to realize the responsibility that I possess. The education that I have been privileged to receive in the US and the passion I have developed for medicine and public health must be shared with those living in my birth nation.
I am looking forward to researching with Sangath, an NGO that I have worked with in the past. I will be examining mental healthcare provision in rural communities in Madhya Pradesh. I hope to build upon the research I had completed last summer in Gumballi, Karnataka, which examined the role of non-specialist health workers in integrating mental health care within primary care. During this first project, I learned from an amazing mentor, who taught me the value of the voices found at the ground-level. By conversing with the health workers, I was able to analyze facets of the organizational structure that affected successful implementation of the National Mental Health Programme, a policy launched by the Indian government. Based on dialogue with the community and the health workers in Madhya Pradesh, I want to continue learning about how the diagnosis and treatment process can be improved and can be better woven into the current policy.
At the same time, my visit feels a bit different. I will be spending more than 2-3 months… I will be spending 10 months in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh! I will be more independent than I have ever been in India… I will be away from my immediate family, in a region of India, where I don’t have any extended family.
For these above reasons, I am so grateful to have a community organized by AIF, where I will be surrounded by talented, motivated, and highly enthusiastic individuals from all backgrounds. From their varied experiences and interests, I want to understand how public health affects and is affected by other sectors like education and economic development. By interacting with the other fellows, I hope to disentangle the web of social determinants that influence an individual’s approach to healthcare.