GMH@Harvard Ambassador Board's Reading and Listening Recommendations for those Passionate about Mental Health
List curated by Louisa Hudson, Research Assistant, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
The GMH@Harvard Ambassador Board is a group comprised of early career professionals and students representing a number of different schools, hospitals and organizations within our network. These individuals are passionate about mental health and are assisting the Initiative on a number of outreach and communications activities to elevate the profile of mental health as a fundamental public good and a universal human right here at our University, in our local Boston city, and all over the world.
Many of them work in the field but are just as committed to elevating awareness about mental health issues, increasing access to care, and listening to stories of those with lived experience outside of their jobs as well. As we start off the new year, here is an introduction to a few of the GMH@Harvard Ambassador Board members and some of their recommendations for reading and listening materials broadly centered around mental health.
Program Coordinator, Community Psychiatry PRIDE, Massachusetts General Hospital
In her role as Program Coordinator, Anna contributes to the design, organization, and execution of multilevel implementation projects to increase access to quality mental health care. In particular, she has worked extensively on projects that aim to build capacity for non-mental health professionals to deliver evidence-based interventions to high risk youth. Previously, Anna worked in North Carolina investigating the effectiveness of technology-assisted treatment for substance use disorder and in India evaluating the longitudinal mental health outcomes of orphans and separated children. Anna completed her undergraduate degree at Duke University in 2017 where she received a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Bachelor of Arts in Global Health with a concentration in Global Mental Health.
Anna recommends: In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addition, a novel that explores the complexities of addiction through narratives of individuals suffering in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside. From the front lines of treatment, Dr. Gabor Mate provides an in-depth and human account of the biological, psychological, and social faces of addiction
Research Assistant, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Enryka completed her MSc in Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and King’s College London, and her BA was a double major in English and Psychology at Mount Holyoke College. Currently, she works on dementia and cognitive impairment research between the US and South Africa as part of the HAALSI study. Previously, Enryka worked on PTSD and bereavement research with the US military and interned as an Assistant Psychologist at a complex PTSD clinic in London. In her free time, she loves to cook, bake, and get involved with art.
Enryka recommends: Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre. She loves this book because it details all the perils of bad research along with the research process in a really down-to-earth, funny and sarcastic tone.
Cross-Site Mental Health Officer, Partners In Health
Sarah received her Master of Public Health at Boston University. She works at Partners In Health (PIH) as their Cross-Site Mental Health Officer (Manager). PIH is an international social-justice oriented non-profit dedicated to health system strengthening in Haiti, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mexico, Peru, Lesotho, Malawi, Kazakhstan and Navajo Nation. Together with a cross-national team, she provides program management and technical advisement to mental health service delivery development across PIH sites focusing on grants and financial management, operations, strategic planning, training and curriculum development initiatives, knowledge sharing and capacity building, and special projects. Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, traveling and skiing.
Sarah recommends: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures because it beautifully illustrates the intersection of traditional and western medicine, and what the construct of mental illness can mean across cultures.
Population Health PhD Student, Northeastern University
Saloni was born and raised in India and moved to the States a few years ago to get her MA in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. She is currently working towards a PhD in Population Health at Northeastern University. Saloni’s principal area of research is social epidemiology, psychiatric epidemiology, and mental health implementation science research in low-resource settings. Her current work focuses on investigating area-level income inequality and social capital as determinants of depression and suicide in the United States, as well as utilizing epidemiological methods to improve implementation of mental health interventions in India.
Saloni recommends: Mental Health Isn’t a Contest by Tanmoy Goswami, a 3-minute read published on the World Mental Health Day in 2019 highlighting how words have ‘real power’ in mental health conversations.
Louisa Fresquez Hudson
Research Assistant, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Louisa received her MSc in Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and currently works with Dr. Anne Becker on global mental health research at Harvard Medical School. Her work with Dr. Becker is primarily focused on qualitative research regarding adolescent mental health in Fiji. Prior to working at Harvard, Louisa worked with Partners In Health during the Ebola response and was a Caseworker for victims of human trafficking and torture at a human rights charity in London. She studied fine art as an undergraduate at Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and still love this field as a hobby, as well as baking and yoga.
Louisa recommends: The Hilarious World of Depression, a collection of interviews with a variety of celebrities who have experience with mental illness. This podcast is proof that even in the darkest hours, humor exists, and it teaches you that there are infinite ways to manage mental illness.
Master’s of Liberal Arts Student at the Harvard Extension School, studying Management. Certified Peer Specialist, Boston Medical Center
While leading 13 teams throughout Europe as regional business executive, Bill developed mental health concerns. To heal, he turned to mindfulness practices. As a certified peer specialist, Bill regularly consults using these skills. He is studying Management at Harvard and seeks to benefit the global mental health community.
Bill recommends: Peace is Every Step, in which Thich Nhat Hanh simplifies mindfulness to its core.
Harvard College ’21, A.B. Candidate in Social Anthropology and Global Health & Health Policy
Anne is a junior studying social anthropology, global health, and health policy at Harvard College but spends most of her time involved in research and advocacy regarding mental health, eating disorders, education, and global health equity. She currently conducts research on the plastic surgery and dieting culture in South Korea, studying its history and evolution through archival analyses as well its effects on the mental and physical well-being of young women in South Korea through engaged fieldwork. Beyond her own research, Anne works as a research assistant for Dr. Anne Becker on work regarding adolescent mental health in Fiji, serves as a peer counselor for Harvard’s Eating Concerns Hotline and Outreach program, acts as the community building and education lead of Harvard College’s Partners in Health Engage chapter, and dances in the modern, hip-hop, and ballet companies at Harvard.
Anne recommends: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, in which Stevenson tackles questions of justice, empathy, and suffering through his work as a legal advocate for arguably the most marginalized of individuals in our country’s legal system. In his efforts of both tackling and reimagining our nation’s justice system that – to this day – disproportionately affects poor people and persons of color, Stevenson reminds us of the necessity of optimism, hope, and the perseverance to fight against the seemingly impossible if we are to achieve the social changes our world desperately needs.
First year doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology, University of Massachusetts Boston (working under the mentorship of Dr. Sarah Hayes-Skelton)
Sriramya received her BA in Psychology and Neuroscience from Boston University in 2016. During her undergraduate years at BU’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders and her post-bacc years as a research coordinator at McLean Hospital’s OCD Institute, she worked on several studies examining the etiology and treatment of OCD and anxiety disorders. Much of Sriramya’s research has focused on exploring clinical outcomes, predictors and patterns of treatment response as well as transdiagnostic mechanisms of therapeutic change in anxiety and related disorders. Through this work, she developed an interest in understanding factors impacting treatment efficacy and utilization specifically in historically underserved populations in diverse contexts, here in the US and abroad. Sriramya’s current research focuses on leveraging this information to adapt existing EBTs and find ways to improve their implementation and dissemination. Her hope is to help reduce the current service gap in underserved populations, globally, by improving their access to effective EBTs.
Sriramya recommends: Invisibilia, a podcast about the unseeable forces that control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. This podcast fuses narrative storytelling with science to provide thought provoking insights that can make us see things differently.
Program Coordinator for the GMH@Harvard Initiative, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Juliana is the Program Coordinator for the GMH@Harvard Initiative and Professor Vikram Patel’s Assistant. In addition to her work with the Initiative she is a Research Assistant on Professor Patel’s NIMH funded project ESSENCE (Enabling Translation of Science to Service to ENhance depression CarE), which is based out of the Sangath Bhopal office in Madhya Pradesh, India. Prior to joining Harvard, Juliana worked in the Department of Global Health at Boston University School of Public Health as the Events and Communications Specialist and the Executive Assistant to the Chair. Outside of work she enjoys photography, spending time at the beach, and cooking.
Juliana recommends: Tattoos on the Heart: The power of boundless compassion. In this book, Father Gregory Boyle tells stories about his experience founding and running Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program in Los Angeles. It focuses on the power of resilience and how providing basic necessities such as job trainings, employment, and just someone who cares can change a person’s outlook and life trajectory.
Research Assistant, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Sheena received her BA in Community Health from Brown University and is currently pursuing a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree from the MGH Institute of Health Professions, while also working part time with Dr. Vikram Patel at Harvard Medical School. Her work with Dr. Patel is currently focused on building the world’s global mental health workforce via a digital training platform called EMPOWER, which will train non-specialists to deliver psychological interventions. Prior to working at Harvard, Sheena worked at Partners In Health on the community organizing program PIH Engage, and was a Fulbright scholar at Sangath in Goa, India studying the experiences of community mental health workers.
Sheena recommends: A Common Struggle: A personal journey through the past and future of mental illness and addiction by Patrick J. Kennedy and Stephen Fried. Sheena was particularly interested in the policy efforts chronicled in the book to achieve mental health parity — there are so many ways that politics can influence mental health in America (more on mental health parity here)