So it begins…

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.

As an undergraduate, Anusha cultivated an interest in connecting medical anthropology and global health, particularly in India. She is interested in understanding the Indian public health system using qualitative methodologies. Anusha has worked in the past with Sangath, an NGO that focuses on improving the provision of mental healthcare in India. Anusha will continue to work with Sangath to evaluate the PRIME study, an international study that aims to generate knowledge which can be used to improve access to care for priority mental disorders in primary and maternal health care contexts in low resource settings. In the future, she hopes to become a cultural broker in both the academic and health care realms.

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