Vikram Patel

The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health, Harvard Medical School and Founder, Sangath.

Vikram is a psychiatrist, a researcher, and an author. He has spent the better part of his life and career figuring out how to bring better mental health care to low-resource communities -- especially by teaching ordinary people to deliver basic mental health services. His work spans the areas of mental health problems, child development, and adolescent health, in particular, how we can use community resources for assessment, prevention, and recovery (especially focused in low-resource countries). In 2003, he wrote an illustrated book “Where There Is No Psychiatrist” which has become a widely used manual for community mental health in developing countries, the 2nd edition was launched just last year. He co-founded the Movement for Global Mental Health (a virtual network of individuals and organizations that aim to improve services for people living with mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities across the world). He was named in the TIME 100 Most Influential People of 2015. He is especially interested in and a promoter of the arts - especially as a medium for talking about personal experience and mental health. 

Vikram is a professor of global health at the Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Sangath which initiated the It's Ok To Talk campaign in 2017. The youth mental health awareness campaign works through new media and the arts, community-based events, training and leadership building, and social media to highlight young people’s lived experiences of mental health needs and build their capacities to address mental health challenges. In 2019, It’s Ok To Talk was recognized as one of the 10 most prominent international mental health campaigns by Facebook and featured in a World Economic Forum report in 2020. The campaign strives to involve young people, especially those with personal lived experiences of mental health needs, at each level. This includes the levels of consultation for conceptualizing projects, engagement as staff and volunteers, and monitoring and evaluation of impact. The programs’ approachability is best demonstrated through more than 200 personal submissions by young people on the It’s Ok To Talk website and the Mann Mela museum of young people’s mental health stories.