McLean Hospital and the Dr. N.S. Vahia Foundation Collaboration
Outreach and Education in Mumbai, India
McLean Hospital is dedicated to increasing mental health awareness, while reducing the stigma too often associated with psychiatric disorders. McLean and the Dr. N.S. Vahia (NSV) Foundation, a mental health NGO based in Mumbai, are collaborating to develop innovative and engaging campaigns to enhance mental health education throughout India.
Why Is McLean Doing Work in India?
Education and advocacy are key elements of the McLean mission. The hospital has a deep-seated commitment to improving knowledge and understanding of psychiatric disorders and their treatments globally. Via a thoughtful, multi-pronged approach that includes public and professional education, McLean leverages its expertise internationally. McLean aims to enhance the overall knowledge of brain health and encourage compassion and understanding for individuals living with psychiatric disorders.
For more than a decade, the NSV Foundation has hosted one of India’s most sought-after mental health conferences. The event is aimed at providing up-to-date information about the latest standards and protocols in the delivery of mental health care. In 2019, McLean and the NSV Foundation formally teamed up to develop “Innovations in Mental Health Care.” This two-day professional conference featured speakers from McLean, along with mental health experts from India. Talks focused on non-medication interventions to mental health disorders. Topics covered in this conference included cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and general psychiatric management, which was developed at McLean.
McLean Hospital, the NSV Foundation, and the Nehru Science Centre in Mumbai teamed up to produce a groundbreaking science exhibit “Exploring Brain and Mental Health.”
The exhibit showcased pieces of McLean’s award-winning public education campaign Deconstructing Stigma. Larger-than-life photos featured real stories of Indians sharing their experiences with mental illness. The exhibit also incorporated hands-on opportunities for school-age children to learn about the brain through age-appropriate activities. Children and adults were able to build neurons, view human brain cells under microscopes, and hold a human brain. The exhibit was attended by more than 3,500 people, including over 2,500 school children.
In addition to the physical exhibits, the public was invited to join in mental health-related talks. Topics included “A Parent’s Guide to Technology and Mental Health,” “Educating the Educators about Brain Health,” and “Bullying: The Lasting Impact.”
Impact of the Collaboration
Through partnerships with McLean’s international collaborators, such as the NSV Foundation and the Nehru Science Centre, McLean is delivering on its pledge to improve access to high-quality psychiatric care, research, and education by educating the world.
Facts About Indian Mental Health
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 20% of Indians—274 million people—will experience depression in their lifetime, yet less than 15% of Indians seek treatment
- 80% of those with mental illness or substance use issues do not seek treatment
- One student dies by suicide every hour in India
- Suicide is the leading cause of death among youth
- 94 million Indians have depression and/or anxiety
- Stigma against those with mental illness is rampant in India, with 47% of those surveyed indicating they were “highly judgmental” of people perceived to have mental illness
- 26% of people surveyed said they were afraid of people with mental illness
The Dr. N.S. Vahia Foundation is an NGO named after the late Dr. N.S. Vahia (1916-2007). The foundation endeavors to enhance neuropsychiatry in India. The importance of focusing on mental illness and mental health is underscored by the WHO data that reveals that disability induced by mental illness surpasses disability due to any other physical illness, including cardiac illness or cancer. The Dr. N.S. Vahia Foundation has been conducting teaching programs for clinicians and students of psychiatry in Maharashtra since the year 2008.
Nehru Science Centre is one of four national science centers in India. As a part of its activities, the center organizes regular extensive science education programs. It is visited by more than 700,000 people annually. Close to 1.2 million school children alone have participated in the activities of the center. The NSC incorporates innovative ways to communicate science to enhance public understanding of science and spread scientific literacy.