Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Mumbai | Tuljapur | Guwahati | Hyderabad

Introduction, brief history and thrust areas

The Department of Medical and Psychiatric Social Work was one of the pioneering departments in the field of health social work in the country. Since its inception in 1948, the focus of teaching and fieldwork was on clinical, institutional and individual centered interventions in medical and psychiatric settings. Over the years, the Department moved from a charity and welfare oriented approach to health to an integrated/ development perspective. Over the past decades, the Department has made pioneering contributions to the field of health social work through its capacity building/training of postgraduate students, doctoral students and professionals in the health field as well as advocacy, action, research, documentation and extension work. In 2003, the Department was awarded the Department Research Support by the University Grants Commission to consolidate its work in the field of Community Health and Mental Health and Sexuality and Reproductive Health. In 2006, the Department of Medical and Psychiatric Social Work (under the former institutional structure) has been reconfigured as the Centre for Health and Mental Health(hereafter CHMH). The change reaffirmed the commitment of faculty within the newly constituted centre to continue to engage with the issue of health from a development and human rights framework and to bring centre stage mental health as inalienable aspect of health.


The Centre for Health and Mental Health recognizes health as a social, economic and political issue and above all a fundamental human right. It believes that health is integrally related to processes of development and that inequality, poverty; exploitation, violence and injustice are at the root of ill-health and mortality, especially of the poor and marginalized. It believes that if people have to attain the highest standards of health, political and economic priorities need to drastically change. The Centre's work is directed towards creating a society where every person is able to attain the highest possible level of health and well-being regardless of a person's caste, ethnic background, religion, gender, age, abilities, sexual orientation or class and where people are central to the formulation, implementation and evaluation of all health and social policies and programmes.


The Centre seeks to fulfill its vision through social work education, conducting research and building knowledge, field action, continuing education/training and consultancy to address health needs of marginalized populations and emerging issues related to health and mental health in the context of globalization. The Centre seeks to do this by building partnerships with different stakeholders in the field of health and development such as movements, NGOs, government, academic and training institutions locally, regionally and internationally. Given the common sociopolitical, cultural and economic realities of the South Asian region the Centre seeks to build networks to develop responses in relevant policy, research, services and social work education in health and mental health.

Field Engagement and paradigm shift over the years :

About - Fieldwork The Centre offers two programs, M.A. Social Work in Mental Health and M.A. Social Work in Public Health. At the end of the two year program it is envisaged that the student is able to understand and appreciate the diverse perspectives on health and mental health, able to see the intersectionalities of vulnerability and integrate health and mental health work with development initiatives like education, livelihood and other programmes. Through their classroom engagaement and field placement , they understand diverse community based models, and also are facilitated to innovate their own models. They also assimilate ethics and values of the profession and how to demonstrate the same in their work. Also the courses help them to recognize local, indigenous health and mental health resources and ways to integrate them for the prevention and promotion of mental health. Students who have graduated from this program are placed in different leading mental health organisations in the country, who are successfully demonstrating community based models challenging the stigma. Few of them are placed in state livelihood missions and integrating PWMI and PWDs in thier work domain. Few have been placed in diverse sectors working on children and wormen, where in again they are keeping their mental health lens focussing on Mental health promotion. And the remaining has moved for their advanced studies in mental Health.

This paradigm shift definitely has encouraged students to work in mainstream programmes and they are confident in taking up mental health work in whicehevr programme they are working in. They are able to appreciate convergence and able to work towards a new vision of mental health and mental health care, building equity and justice.



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