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Center for Human Rights - Celebrating 15 Years! Students • Partners • Research

GROW Team Fights Mental Illness Stigma in Rural India

September 4, 2014

Four undergraduate students received the 2014 Jennifer Caldwell fellowship. They applied as the Grassroots On-site Work (GROW) team, which included Eugene Hsu (Bioengineering), James Kelley (Psychology and Public Health), Brittney Senn (Nursing and Public Health) and Laurie Tran (Biology, Medical Anthropology and Global Health).

The GROW team traveled from the University of Washington to India this past summer to work with the MINDS Foundation, an NGO in Vadodara, Gujarat focused on eliminating mental illness stigma and providing care for patients in rural villages. Specifically, the GROW team explored the villages of Hareshwar, Kunvarpura, and Kasumbia and constructed detailed maps of the villages, which allow MINDS staff to interact with patients in a more efficient manner via the maps. The team also worked on various other projects, including patient narratives, where they listened to every patient’s story and record their experiences. A demographic statistical analysis was also performed on the past patient data; the team was able to identify substance abuse and mood disorders as the most common identifiable illnesses, but more importantly, they were able to see the distribution of diseased patients across the 19 villages in which MINDS operates.

As the GROW team explained, “overall, it was an irreplaceable experience with some extreme ups and downs that will forever be ingrained in our lives.” This project allows the students to “apply the theories and concepts learned in the classroom and with the help of our faculty adviser, Dr. Mathew Sparke, we can begin to understand, based on these experiences, how to effectively improve health for all people.”