Prof Patel featured by the Harvard University Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute

May 26, 2022

“Where There is No Psychiatrist: How Vikram Patel Changed the Global Face of Mental Health Care” – In this feature the Mittal Institute talks with Vikram about his early stages of working to address mental health care delivery and where it’s expanded to now.

Excerpt from the article below. You can read more here.

Vikram shared: “The field of mental health was seen as a peripheral subject in the health field by virtually everyone at that time [mid 1990s], and I believe that one of my key contributions back then was to contribute to the evidence that demonstrated that mental illness, even though mostly invisible, for example with no physical signs or laboratory tests, was a real, universal form of human suffering associated with enormous personal consequences.”


As Patel began to make mental health more visible, he also felt the need to challenge the stigma. For him, the stigma was less about mental illness itself than it was about the way society treated people with mental illness across the centuries. He believed that if people better understood mental health problems–if they could see it in their communities and see that there were humane, community-based strategies to support recovery rather than the incarceration, sedation and violence that was the hallmark of care in both traditional and psychiatric facilities–then people’s beliefs and attitudes would change, too. That’s when he started testing the idea of community-based mental health care using local human resources.