*Supposed to be posted June 27th
Today I woke up 3 hours before I usually do to catch a ride with my coworkers into a rural community in northern Goa. This was my first field experience since coming to Sangath and even though the sun was barely up, I felt excited that I would finally be able to see mental health work in action in the field. Three of my coworkers who were also trained lay health workers were tasked with conducting training for the Gatekeepers of that specific community. This is based off a task shifting model where in low resource communities, lay health workers and gatekeepers- people identified by the community to be important members that hold access and the trust of the community members—are trained to identify and give basic treatment for mental health illnesses and to point people to other resources and agencies that are equipped to treat them. In this training we spoke with Anganwadi workers of the SAFE Project on Helping hand course that would encourage the AWW and the self help group members to strengthen their general skills for communicating and referring the patients to Sangath and to other similar organization. It was a successful training conducted for 41 participants and received positive responses as well as a greater demand for similar trainings to be organized in more communities by the participants. I felt so lucky to help out on this vital part of Sangath’s services and to see all the hard work my fellow coworkers put into the training process come to fruition in the smiles and answered questions of the Anganwadis. I got to interact with the community members who come face to face these mental health issues and now are better equipped to give support and refer resources to those who did not previously have access to care. It’s an experience that I won’t likely forget anytime soon and one that I will carry into my professional career.