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Project blank slate

Project Blank Slate is a research project which aims at conducting an initial exploratory study of the nature and scope of mental health concerns in rural India.

Project blank slate

The National Mental Health Survey 2016 found that close to 14 per cent of India’s population required active mental health interventions. Further it highlighted that nearly 80% of those suffering from mental disorders did not receive treatment for over a year. This is made further complicated with the presence of 0.07 psychologists and 0.29 psychiatrists per 1 lakh population (WHO Mental health atlas 2020)

In rural areas close to 10 % of the population suffers from mental disorders. Considering that almost 72.2 percent of the Indian population lives in rural areas, with only about 25 percent of the health infrastructure, medical personnel, and other health resources, the gap between demand-supply of mental health care is highly disproportionate in rural areas (Kumar, 2011).

While overall prevalence of mental morbidity was higher among males (13.9%) than among females (7.5%). There were disparities found in the data for specific disorders like mood disorders, neurotic disorders, phobic anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders which were higher in females. Additionally, around 3 per cent of women faced anxiety disorders due to bullying and victimization and about 8.3 per cent of women were vulnerable due to childhood sexual abuse.

Given the current situation, it is imperative that efforts are put into developing a better understanding of the situation in rural India so that this can inform future intervention. ABF is happy to announce Project Blank Slate.

Project Blank Slate is a research project which aims at conducting an initial exploratory study of the nature and scope of mental health concerns in rural India. With this project we aim to provide a platform to women in rural India that ensures that their lived experiences are at the forefront of our initiatives.

Project Blank Slate intends to tap into the unexplored aspects of mental health in rural India, highlighting the voices from the field. The goal of this initiative is to shed light on the lived experiences and to bring awareness towards the unique landscape that mental health can look like in the rural areas. We intend to provide a blank slate to the empowered rural population and urge them to write and own their narratives; to express their needs and to lead the way towards mental well-being, as seen by them.

Our first step in this direction is to reach out to women for whom mental health services remain a remote reality. Health in this population remains largely limited to physical health, even that remains difficult to access due to low educational levels, poverty, and financial dependence of women on men.

In our mission to reach out to these women and examine the narrative of mental health amongst them, Project BLank Slate has partnered with Svatantra. Svatantra is a next gen microfinance entity that encourages entrepreneurship where traditional banking systems cannot penetrate through a holistic financial and non-financial offering, with micro-credit being the main focus. Their intensive and personalized work with rural women has been the cornerstone of building communities and social support through the women themselves.

They have been gracious enough to be our bridge to the women in rural India and to facilitate the logistics from the field.

Our Team

Our team comprises two verticals that form the backbone of the project. The Mental health vertical and the Methodology vertical.

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Research Manager

Poorvi

Poorvi is a PhD student at the London School of Economics and Political Science with the Department of Methodology. She uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand the ways in which Indian college students perform their identities.

She holds a BA in Economics and Psychology from New York University (NYU) and an MSc in Economics and Business (with a specialisation in behavioural economics) from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands and a second MSc in Social Research Methods at the London School of Economics. Additionally, she has research experience in the field of behavioural economics at institutions like NYU, University of Mumbai and ETH Zurich. She also holds teaching positions at St. Xaviers College, Mumbai and the LSE where she teaches courses on behavioural economics and research methods from the undergraduate to the masters levels.

With Project Blank Slate, Poorvi intends on bringing her knowledge and expertise in methods to the topic of mental health in India.

Mental Health Expert

Dr. Hansika

Dr. Hansika Kapoor is a Research Author at the Department of Psychology, Monk Prayogshala. She holds a PhD from IIT, Bombay in the area of dark creativity aka how people get good ideas to do bad things.  She is the recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship (2019-2020) and is an Affiliate at the University of Connecticut. She is a published author and visiting/adjunct faculty at several liberal arts colleges in India. Hansika is also a practicing psychologist (clinical), and specialises in psychological assessment and therapy related to anxiety and mood disorders among adolescents and adults.

Dr. Kapoor has been cited as a subject matter expert in numerous features on social and cognitive psychology in the Indian context. Her research interests lie in individual differences, socio-moral psychology, and behavioral science. Hansika has also been featured in the book 31 Fantastic Adventures in Science: Women Scientists in India.

With Project Blank Slate, Hansika aims to combine her clinical and research expertise to augment mental health awareness in rural India.

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Mental Health Expert

Dr. rupa

Dr. Rupa Kalahasthi is currently an Assistant Professor and licensed Clinical Psychologist at Rochester Institute of Technology, and her major clinical and research work is focused on providing mental health care to the homeless population in India. Her research work is focused on creating mental health awareness amongst the underserved, establishing guidelines to provide mental health care for the homeless in India and the US, integrating technology and digital tools to provide efficient mental health services, and create culturally appropriate resources for Indian clinicians. She currently supervises pre-doctoral and post-doctoral clinical psychology interns in the US and leads a clinical and research team in India.

She holds a bachelor’s degree (BA) from St. Xavier’s College and master’s degree (MA) from the University of Mumbai and doctorate in psychology (PsyD) from The George Washington University in the United States. She completed rigorous clinical training and has clinical experience of working with diverse populations in both countries. Her clinical passion is to work with individuals experiencing severe and persistent mental health disorders and provide them with evidence-based care and has expertise in using psychodiagnostics tools.

With Project Blank Slate, Rupa aims to build insights into the mental health needs of under-represented groups and enhance culturally competent and ethical research in India.

Project Management and Mental Health Research Assistant

Arunima Ticku

Arunima has completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Fergusson College, Pune. She is interested in contextualizing the psychological, cultural, social, and moral precursors of human behaviours.

Previously, she worked at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences as a Research Assistant for 2 independent projects on the psychosocial wellbeing of 1) women and 2) people, frontline workers, and mental health professionals in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As an Extramural Researcher at Monk Prayogshala, she contributes to projects at the nexus of behavior science and policies. She also teaches this subject as a Guest Lecturer on Applied Behavioral Analysis at the Symbiosis School of Economics.

With Project Blank Slate, Arunima aims to document the perspective of mental health amongst rural Indians, and contribute towards filling extant gaps from a culturally and contextually informed lens.

Arunima aims to contribute towards bridging the gap between theories and action-oriented policies. She tweets @ArunimaTicku.

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Mental Health Research Assistant

Pooja

Pooja has done her B.A. in Psychology from St. Xaviers College, Mumbai and M.A. in Psychology, Clinical from SNDT Women’s University, Churchgate, Mumbai. She has received a gold medal in her masters program. She has experience working with children and adolescents in school set up with regards to addressing their mental health needs and also doing psychoeducational assessments for children with learning difficulties.

She has been training herself in trauma focused therapies and currently, works privately as a trauma informed therapist in Bombay with adolescents and adults. She is interested in understanding and treating the effects of trauma on children and adults from an intergenerational perspective. She does workshops as a visiting faculty for students in their counseling program on existential / humanistic psychotherapies, use of projective techniques in clinical work and has also supervised students undergoing their fieldwork as counselors in training.

With Project Blank Slate, Pooja intends to understand the existing narratives around mental health and help develop suitable intervention plans that are aligned with the cultural context of the community concerned.

Methodology Expert

Dr. Savita

Dr. Savita Kulkarni is presently working as an assistant professor at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (GIPE), Maharashtra. She is also the in-charge of the Center for Behavioral Economics, GIPE. She teaches subjects like development economics, behavioral economics, behavioral finance and basic econometrics.

Dr. Savita has completed her doctoral research from department of economics, University of Mumbai in the areas of development economics, behavioral economics and experimental economics. She studied informal institutions like gender and social norms and their impact on economic decisions by conducting laboratory experiments. She has delivered many customized workshops and lectures on behavioural economics to various government agencies, academic institutions and corporate houses.

With Project Blank Slate, Savita intends to contribute in strategizing the field work along with designing Randomized Control Trials to test interventions in the area of mental health.

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Methodology Research Assistant

riya

Riya Karmarkar has completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Fergusson college, Pune. She is a certified Play therapist and has worked with children and adults in clinical and counselling settings. Currently she is working as a Play therapist at Manasvi, a mental health organisation in Pune.

She has presented her research at a National conference. Always keen to learn, she has attended short courses to enhance her understanding in areas such as REBT and Mindfulness.

With Project Blank Slate, she aims to utilise her experience in research and interviewing to understand mental health through the lens of people coming from varied backgrounds.

Methodology Research Assistant

Shivani Sapre

Shivani Sapre is a Psychologist with specialization in Clinical Psychology. She is currently working as an Assistant Professor and Counsellor at MD College, Mumbai. Her areas of interest also include research and testing.

She has published articles in magazines at both college and professional levels. She is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer.

Through Project Blank Slate, she hopes to utilize her communication skills, her ability to work in groups and her empathetic nature in reaching out to various sections of the society.

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Methodology Research Assistant

Tanvi pawar

Tanvi Pawar is a practicing psychologist and a published researcher from Mumbai.

She has completed her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology with a Rank 1 all over the university.  After which she pursued a Master’s degree with a specialization in Clinical psychology from Mumbai’s SNDT Women’s University. 

She is currently working as a psychologist with SFC foundations, a Nonprofit organisation. She provides therapy from a queer affirmative, intersectional feminist and trauma informed lense

She has been a researcher for the past 5 years, during which she studied a plethora of psychological variables. She is currently working with Ananya Birla Foundation as a Research Assistant in the Methodology vertical and she mentions that it has been one of the most rigorous research experiences of her professional career. Going on field, meeting the participants in person and learning from them has been the highlight of her tenure with us.

Methodology Research Assistant

Pranay Javeri

I am Pranay Javeri. I have completed M.Sc. in Clinical Psychology from Manipal Academy of Higher Education in August 2021. Currently, I work as a Mental Health Research Assistant at Ananya Birla Foundation for the Project Blank Slate since October 2021. I have a keen interest in mental health research, especially concerning underprivileged and marginalised communities.

I have worked as a research intern for the ‘Test Development and Psychometrics Project’ by Dept. Of Applied Psychology & Counselling Centre, University of Mumbai. Later, I have worked with Sangath India as a research intern in the Addictions Research Group on projects like To Quit and Heal Well India Survey.

I aim to employ the skills I have learnt to efficiently fulfil my role in this project and sharpen my research skills. I also hold an interest in various research areas ranging from Depression, Addiction and Mindfulness to Issues faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals.

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Poorva

Research Manager

Poorvi is a PhD student at the London School of Economics and Political Science with the Department of Methodology. She uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand the ways in which Indian college students perform their identities.

She holds a BA in Economics and Psychology from New York University (NYU) and an MSc in Economics and Business (with a specialisation in behavioural economics) from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands and a second MSc in Social Research Methods at the London School of Economics. Additionally, she has research experience in the field of behavioural economics at institutions like NYU, University of Mumbai and ETH Zurich. She also holds teaching positions at St. Xaviers College, Mumbai and the LSE where she teaches courses on behavioural economics and research methods from the undergraduate to the masters levels.

With Project Blank Slate, Poorvi intends on bringing her knowledge and expertise in methods to the topic of mental health in India.

DR. HANSIKA

Mental Health Expert

Dr. Hansika Kapoor is a Research Author at the Department of Psychology, Monk Prayogshala. She holds a PhD from IIT, Bombay in the area of dark creativity aka how people get good ideas to do bad things.  She is the recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship (2019-2020) and is an Affiliate at the University of Connecticut. She is a published author and visiting/adjunct faculty at several liberal arts colleges in India. Hansika is also a practicing psychologist (clinical), and specialises in psychological assessment and therapy related to anxiety and mood disorders among adolescents and adults.

Dr. Kapoor has been cited as a subject matter expert in numerous features on social and cognitive psychology in the Indian context. Her research interests lie in individual differences, socio-moral psychology, and behavioral science. Hansika has also been featured in the book 31 Fantastic Adventures in Science: Women Scientists in India.

With Project Blank Slate, Hansika aims to combine her clinical and research expertise to augment mental health awareness in rural India.

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Poorvi is a PhD student at the London School of Economics and Political Science with the Department of Methodology. She uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand the ways in which Indian college students perform their identities.

She holds a BA in Economics and Psychology from New York University (NYU) and an MSc in Economics and Business (with a specialisation in behavioural economics) from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands and a second MSc in Social Research Methods at the London School of Economics. Additionally, she has research experience in the field of behavioural economics at institutions like NYU, University of Mumbai and ETH Zurich. She also holds teaching positions at St. Xaviers College, Mumbai and the LSE where she teaches courses on behavioural economics and research methods from the undergraduate to the masters levels.

With Project Blank Slate, Poorvi intends on bringing her knowledge and expertise in methods to the topic of mental health in India.
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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Optio, neque qui velit. Magni dolorum quidem ipsam eligendi, totam, facilis laudantium cum accusamus ullam voluptatibus commodi numquam, error, est. Ea, consequatur.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Optio, neque qui velit. Magni dolorum quidem ipsam eligendi, totam, facilis laudantium cum accusamus ullam voluptatibus commodi numquam, error, est. Ea, consequatur.

Poorvi is a PhD student at the London School of Economics and Political Science with the Department of Methodology. She uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand the ways in which Indian college students perform their identities.

She holds a BA in Economics and Psychology from New York University (NYU) and an MSc in Economics and Business (with a specialisation in behavioural economics) from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands and a second MSc in Social Research Methods at the London School of Economics. Additionally, she has research experience in the field of behavioural economics at institutions like NYU, University of Mumbai and ETH Zurich. She also holds teaching positions at St. Xaviers College, Mumbai and the LSE where she teaches courses on behavioural economics and research methods from the undergraduate to the masters levels.

With Project Blank Slate, Poorvi intends on bringing her knowledge and expertise in methods to the topic of mental health in India.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Optio, neque qui velit. Magni dolorum quidem ipsam eligendi, totam, facilis laudantium cum accusamus ullam voluptatibus commodi numquam, error, est. Ea, consequatur.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Optio, neque qui velit. Magni dolorum quidem ipsam eligendi, totam, facilis laudantium cum accusamus ullam voluptatibus commodi numquam, error, est. Ea, consequatur.

Poorvi

Research Manager

Poorvi is a PhD student at the London School of Economics and Political Science with the Department of Methodology. She uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand the ways in which Indian college students perform their identities. She holds a BA in Economics and Psychology from New York University (NYU) and an MSc in Economics and Business (with a specialisation in behavioural economics) from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands and a second MSc in Social Research Methods at the London School of Economics. Additionally, she has research experience in the field of behavioural economics at institutions like NYU, University of Mumbai and ETH Zurich. She also holds teaching positions at St. Xaviers College, Mumbai and the LSE where she teaches courses on behavioural economics and research methods from the undergraduate to the masters levels. With Project Blank Slate, Poorvi intends on bringing her knowledge and expertise in methods to the topic of mental health in India.

Poorvi

Research Manager

Poorvi is a PhD student at the London School of Economics and Political Science with the Department of Methodology. She uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand the ways in which Indian college students perform their identities.

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