Nearly 450 million people are affected by mental illness worldwide. In wealthy nations, just half receive appropriate care, but in developing countries, close to 90 percent go untreated because psychiatrists are in such short supply. Vikram Patel outlines a highly promising approach — training members of communities to give mental health interventions, empowering ordinary people to care for others.
Vikram Patel helps bring better mental health care to low-resource communities
— by teaching ordinary people to deliver basic psychiatric services.
Why you should listen to him:
In towns and villages that have few clinics, doctors and nurses, one particular need often gets overlooked: mental health. When there is no psychiatrist, how do people get care when they need it? Vikram Patel studies how to treat conditions like depression and schizophrenia in low-resource communities, and he’s come up with a powerful model: training the community to help.
Based in Goa for much of the year, Patel is part of a policy group that’s developing India’s first national mental health policy; he’s the co-founder of Sangath, a local NGO dedicated to mental health and family wellbeing. In London, he co-directs the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. And he led the efforts to set up the Movement for Global Mental Health, a network that supports mental health care as a basic human right.
From Sangath’s mission statement: “At the heart of our vision lies the ‘treatment gap’ for mental disorders; the gap between the number of people with a mental disorder and the number who receive care for their mental disorders.”
“This comprehensive work empowers healthcare workers in under-resourced and developing communities to build much-needed mental health care into all aspects of existing services.”
Amazon.com review of “Where There Is No Psychiatrist”