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

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."

What others say

“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"

Vikram Patel’s TED talks

Vikram Patel on the TED Blog

Culture

How should we talk about mental health?

December 18, 2013

Mental health suffers from a major image problem. One in every four people experiences mental health issues — yet more than 40 percent of countries worldwide have no mental health policy. Across the board it seems like we have no idea how to talk about it respectfully and responsibly. Stigma and discrimination are the two […]

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Quotes from Vikram Patel

If you should speak to anyone affected by a mental illness, the chances are that you will hear stories of hidden suffering, shame, and discrimination in nearly every sector of their lives.
Vikram Patel
TEDGlobal 2012 • 662K views Sep 2012
Inspiring, Informative