It is hard to imagine a more difficult challenge than addressing the unmet needs of those from resource-poor countries who live with and suffer from mental-health disorders. And yet Vikram Patel has spent his career doing just that. Some champions of the underserved have a handful of talents on which they rely to maintain their momentum and sustain their efforts. Fortunately for those who are the most vulnerable and the most misunderstood, Patel has many. He is a gifted psychiatrist, a dedicated researcher, a successful author of books and academic papers, and he is an effective communicator. In fact, he seems to have an unending supply of these critical skills. And as a co-founder of the NGO Sangath and the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, he helps spread the simple yet profound idea of mental health for all. He provides hope that mental illness and trauma make us neither weak nor unworthy of love and respect.
Van Dahlen is a psychologist and the founder of Give an Hour, a network of volunteer mental-health professionals, as well as the Campaign to Change Direction