In conversation with Dr Vikram Patel

Festival of Ideas is a new fest and platform which promotes expressionism and it has been introduced by The Editorial Board of Kasturba Medical College, Manipal. It is a novel idea which collectively brings various liberals together, who discuss relevant and impactful issues and each interaction is supplemented by a workshop.
On Day 1 of the Festival of Ideas, Dr Vikram Patel addressed the gathering.

Dr Vikram Patel is an Indian psychiatrist and researcher best known for his work on child development and mental disability in low-resource settings. He is currently the Joint Director of the Centre for Chronic Conditions and Injuries at the Public Health Foundation of India located in New Delhi. He serves on three WHO Committees, which include: Mental Health; Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health; and EMRO Mental Health. And he served as co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health of the National Institute for Mental Health.

In conversation with our Editor-in-chief, Miss Kezia Tyagi, he talks about his inspiration, organization and his perception of Mental Health in India.

Kezia:“What was your inspiration and motivation for going into a field as complex and challenging as psychiatry and clinical psychology”?  

Dr Vikram:“I was always interested in Neurology. But Neurology is more about the diagnosis and the science that goes with it and not much about the people. I didn’t really have a role model but was thoroughly interested in the field. Thus, I found psychiatry and clinical psychology to be more holistic”.

Kezia: “What led you to find Sangath?”

Dr Vikram: “ We really wanted to open a child development centre in Goa because we thought the place lacked the concept of child development centres. The initial idea was to have a multi-disciplinary child care centre but with time Sangath has evolved and grown into something stronger and more impactful and history is key.”

Kezia: “As an internationally renowned researcher and innovator in global mental health, where would you say, we currently stand in research, diagnosis and analysis of mental illness in India?”

Dr Vikram: “India still has a long way to go but I am happy that we are steadily making progress. The National healthcare survey recently found that in 80% of the states in India, proper mental health care was lacking in the past 12 months. But the health act is a new ray and a positive development.”

Kezia: “Bagging the title of “Pershing Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine” at Harvard Medical School is one of the many laurels you have achieved. Can you quote an incident that stayed with you and created an impact on you in your journey of research in mental health?”

Dr Vikram:” Oh ! There are many such incidents but one in my current journey has been discovering the community health worker movement in India and encountering Dr Abhay’s work in Gachibowli with the community has been so inspirational and it is one of the models I follow.”

Interaction with Dr Vikram Patel was an eye-opening experience which gave us an insight into the immense passion with which he works towards community mental health. We wish him all the success.

Interview by- Kezia Tyagi

Written by- Anushna Sen.

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