Monica Kumar

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Monica Kumar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
A trained clinical psychologist, Monica aims to increase both the demand and the supply for mental health care. To encourage people to seek help for psychological problems, Monica has created imaginative awareness campaigns and social forums that destigmatize mental health concerns and help people see treatment as a normal part of life. At the same time, she meets treatment needs with a system of accessible mental health support within existing institutions.

Monica is countering common perceptions of mental health in India, where the disgrace and ignorance associated with psychological problems are a major barrier to treatment. Because people are generally so reluctant to seek care, mental illnesses often progress to a stage where treatment in formal medical institutions is the best option; unfortunately, this phenomenon further feeds the stigma around psychiatric illness. Monica seeks to change this by creating new possibilities for people to pursue psychological well-being outside structured clinical settings. She works closely with citizen organizations (COs), which recognize that greater awareness of mental health within their institutions will reduce stress and increase productivity among their employees. In the long-term, she is committed to spreading the central concepts in her training programs to government health ministries so that they will become part of India’s healthcare policy.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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