Published April 10, 2008
Transforming Community Health and Mental Health Programs
India has 350 million people aged between 10 and 24 whose well-being is crucial to the future of the subcontinent. Sangath’s mission is to carry out innovative research to promote their health, and to directly provide services, counseling, and models of healthcare to serve those who live in Goa. Ultimately, its goal is to enable children and adolescents to make a successful transition to adulthood.
Sangath believes that health concerns more than the individual; it grows from families, communities, and social structures that are fundamentally sound and nurturing. This holistic and multidisciplinary approach sets Sangath apart and has made it a leader in child development, adolescent and family guidance, and behavioral and mental health.
Founded in 1996 with a staff of seven, Sangath is now the largest and most successful health-related NGO in Goa, with more than 80 employees providing services, conducting research, and running training programs. Its managing committee includes a lawyer and writer, a psychiatrist, a medical epidemiologist, an educator, a child rights author, and a leading journalist — testimony to the breadth of its vision.
Sangath’s strategy is threefold: it runs projects with children and youth in schools, in the community, and through its clinical services; it conducts research on the factors that affect children and young people’s health outcomes, including their families, schools, communities, and service providers; and it assists individuals and institutions to conduct projects and research.
Sangath has run training programs on child and youth physical and mental health, designed for both health workers and academics. The training for health workers is designed to impact children and youth affected by developmental, emotional, or behavioral health problems; training for academics is designed to equip researchers. The programs have proved robust and popular in both urban and rural settings in Goa.
Landmark research studies include work on the link between maternal depression and child malnutrition. These findings, and other research carried out by Sangath, have led to policy change at the World Health Organization and other UN agencies concerned with maternal and mental health; they also influenced health policy in India, Pakistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and South Africa. Sangath’s intervention program for families affected by domestic violence was subsequently incorporated by the Goa State Commission for Women. Its research on child development, adolescent health, and mental health has been cited in three recent series of The Lancet, and Sangath staff and managing committee members were involved as authors and editors of The Lancet’s recent Global Mental Health series, Adolescent Health series, and a forthcoming series on Universal Health Care in India.
Sangath is equipping a new generation for healthier and more responsible lives and generating evidence for improving health care practices in India and across the developing world.
Sangath will use its $350,000 award to build a new center for its clinical, training, and research work.
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