About Fellow

MSc in Mental Health Services Research, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, MA in Clinical Psychology, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai

Sangath, Goa

Institutions I have worked at, after completing my Masters’ degrees: VHS Medical Centre, Chennai, Sangath, Goa, Parivartan, Pune 

I am a Clinical Psychologist working in the field of mental health research in India. Over the last 10 years I have coordinated the research activities of several projects that have designed and evaluated health care services for mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression. My specialisations include designing complex interventions using the Medical Research Council (MRC) framework, and using qualitative methods to understand and incorporate experiences of service users in planning treatments. I have also had the opportunity to build capacity in this regard, by co-designing and implementing Sangath’s course on the development and evaluation of complex health care interventions – the first of its kind in India.

Over the past few years I have become increasingly concerned about the number of suicides among young people in India. Suicidal deaths among 15-29 year-olds account for half the suicidal deaths in the country. Young women especially are, not just two or three times – but six times more likely to die by suicide than their Western counterparts. What is even more worrying is that we do not know why this is the case. Such a gap in our understanding is a significant barrier to developing prevention programs for suicide. It is to study the determinants of youth suicide – and bridge this gap - that I applied for this Fellowship. I now hope to contribute towards the understanding (and thereafter, the prevention) of a major public health problem in India.

The Early Career Fellowship offers me an ideal opportunity to conceptualise and design my own research project while retaining the mentorship necessary for my professional growth. I have an excellent team of advisors with complementary expertise: my long standing guide and Fellowship Supervisor, Prof Vikram Patel (epidemiology, adolescent health, and mental health); my mentor, Dr Soumitra Pathare (human rights and mental health policy); and my collaborator, Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar (suicide). Through this Fellowship I also hope to expand my repertoire of research skills. After having worked primarily in health services research, typically randomised controlled trials, I now look forward to learning observational research methodologies such as the case-control study design (the proposed method for my study).

I am looking forward to an exciting five years and am grateful to the Wellcome Trust/ DBT India Alliance for giving me this opportunity.