Project Mana Maali
Under the direction of Dr. Michelle Newman and Nitya Kanuri, we are now in our second year of project Mana Maali which provides affordable, accessible, evidence-based coaching for anxiety disorders to students at 4 universities in India.
Our plan is to submit grants through Indian institutions to help support this with some support to PAU. Our dream is to have project champions in India, platform development through Bits-Pilani, and an active collaboration among the mHealth Institute, VA PTSD Training/Dissemination/App development, Penn State.
We started this project ~2 years ago to address a need -- many students in universities in India (and most places) are either not getting or not accessing mental healthcare services. In some places, sufficient mental health care resources are not available (e.g., not enough counselors on campus). In most all places, stigma around mental health often prevents many from seeking help when it is available. We've proposed using an online survey to identify those with high levels of anxiety and connect them to a private, online program (supported by our amazing technology partner Lantern) and an online Indian counselor with whom they could connect via messaging or phone to learn new techniques to manage anxiety and get support in practicing them.
In doing this work over the last 3 semesters with our partner university BITS Pilani, we've learned that in addition to providing students with more (and private) ways to ask for help, an important component of addressing mental health is also attempting to reduce the stigma around it (and, in turn, increase help-seeking).
To do this, we've partnered with White Swan Foundation, an NGO based out of the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore. White Swan Foundation has created a "knowledge repository" - translated into several languages - to address mental health stigma from the angle of awareness, education, and knowledge for the person in need of support, the caregiver, and the general community. They have been graciously supporting us for the last year with educational content to provide to students.