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GMH@Harvard: “How Did I Get Here?” Career Paths in Mental Health Series
November 18, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am
The purpose of the panel webinar series is to highlight and learn from the career paths of individuals who have been successful in diverse aspects of global mental health work. These seminars will seek to connect students and interested individuals to professionals in the field by understanding their career paths and how their passion and experiences led them to pursue a career in global mental health. It also serves to encourage individuals to find their own path in the global mental health community.
The structure will be a facilitated panel discussion of three-four individuals who will be asked questions about their experience and advice they have for students and early career professionals. There will also be time for audience questions and discussion.
Iregi MWENJA is a mental health advocate with childhood lived experience. He grew up in rural Kenya where faced social challenges of growing up with undiagnosed ADHD. He received his diagnosis as an adult, a revelation that became a turning point in his life.
Though an accomplished wildlife biologist, he left a well-paying job as a Country Director of an International NGO to establish a mental health non-profit – Psychiatric Disability Organization (PDO). PDO works to foster mental healthcare and advance the rights of people with mental illness focusing more on the socially disadvantaged in his community in Nakuru, Kenya. Through his organization, thousands of Kenyans have received affordable mental healthcare and the much-needed social support.
Iregi was a Mental Health Speaker at the 43rd UNAIDS Board meeting in Geneva. He is an Acumen Fellow and a Member of the Advisory Board of the US based Generation Mental health (GenMH). Iregi is a 2020 Nominee for the National Diversity and Inclusion Award and Recognitions as a PWD champion. Iregi’s brainchild #PamojaInitiative is among ten global community innovations featured in UNAIDS 2020 Ten Global Community Innovations booklet.
Pattie Gonsalves is a mental health researcher and public engagement specialist. Pattie’s on-going work both as a researcher and a practitioner gives her a unique perspective on mental health. Deeply motivated to break the stigma related to young people’s mental health in India, Pattie’s work has focused creating novel advocacy and education projects. She works Sangath, an Indian mental health non-profit, leading digital innovations and participatory projects supported by the Wellcome Trust and Comic Relief. She leads ‘It’s Ok To Talk’, a national anti-stigma campaign for youth mental health and suicide prevention.
Pattie is also studying for a PhD at the University of Sussex UK, researching the impacts of a digital game-based intervention for adolescent mental health.
Carmen Contreras has a graduate degree in psychology, with qualifications in Adolescent Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health, and a Masters degree in Public health. She possesses skills to lead and develop research projects with versatility, ingenuity, a strong work ethic and a passion for health work in vulnerable populations. In the beginning of her career, she studied families of hospitalized minors with adolescent mothers. Then, she supported research on drug use/abuse prevention in adolescents, domestic abuse prevention, and the development of educational mental health materials with the Department of Health. For 16 years, she has been employed at Socios En Salud (SES), coordinating diverse research projects on understanding and improving the clinical conditions of tuberculosis (TB) affected populations, communitary health and mental health. From 2013 to 2016, she took part in the SES Community Advisory Board, made up of community representatives to discuss and propose recommendations from a community perspective to different TB protocols. And additionally, from 2014 to 2017 she was a member of the Community Research Advisors Group – CRAG of the Tuberculosis Trials Consortium – TBTC of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC of the United States. The CRAG is an advisory group consisting of representatives from five continents, established to increase the value and impact of TB research and interventions for the benefit of affected communities.