Setting off on Part 1 of the Churchill Fellowship – to India

On Friday I will be setting off on the first part of the Churchill Fellowship – researching ways to equip young people with the skills to prevent suicide, with a focus on medical students. I’ll be visiting some really impressive organisations in person in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi to understand how this problem is being addressed in the most populous country on earth. 

India also has the largest youth population in the world. Over 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25, and about 65% is below the age of 35 – so over 600 million young people below the ages of 18 and 35, almost 10 times the population of the UK.

Sadly, given the immense population, India accounts for a large proportion of global suicides. Like in UK, suicide is the leading cause of death amongst 18 – 29 year olds and rates are impacted by socioeconomic factors, particularly in rural areas where access to mental health services is limited. 

We created Olly’s Future to share Olly’s love & light and to prevent our amazing young people losing their lives to suicide. Since becoming a charity in 2020, we have launched many programmes which serve this aim, including Dr. SAMS (Suicide Awareness in Medical Students), which now runs in six medical schools – equiping our future doctors with the skills to prevent suicide and support their own mental wellbeing. Olly loved to travel so it feels fitting to be able to share the work of Olly’s Future through connections made around the world.

The Churchill Fellowship gives us an opportunity to learn from organisations around the world on how best to engage young people in suicide prevention and scale our impact. 

These are some of the organisations I look forward to meeting and learning from:

  1. The Mariwala Health Initiative (Mumbai) 

The Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI) is a non-profit that funds and supports mental health initiatives in India. They prioritise suicide prevention by funding projects that promote awareness, early identification, and intervention for suicide risk, and are recently working on a programme to support the mental health of medical students. I’ll be meeting with CEO, Priti Sridhar, to discuss their work and share our work at Olly’s Future. 

  1. Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy (Pune)

The Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy (CMHLP) is a research and advocacy organisation that works to promote mental health rights and access to mental healthcare in India through policy and legal interventions. I will be meeting with the team behind the Outlive – a four year project focussed on reducing youth suicide in urban areas.   

  1. Sangath (Delhi)

Sangath is an NGO that works to improve mental health across the lifespan through community empowerment. Their suicide prevention efforts include implementing community-based interventions, conducting research to understand the risk factors for suicide, and training community health workers to identify and support individuals at risk of suicide. I’ll be meeting with Sweta Pal who leads their youth-focussed suicide prevention efforts 

  1. Youth for Mental Health (India)

Youth for Mental Health (Y4MH) is a youth-led organisation that aims to advance mental health and well-being among young people by promoting awareness, understanding, and open conversations about mental health issues. I’ll be meeting with their CEO and Founder, Hitesh, around the time they celebrate their 5th birthday, to learn about their peer-to-peer mental health support model. 

  1. SPIF – Suicide Prevention India Foundation

The Suicide Prevention India Foundation (SPIF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing suicides in India through awareness, education, and support services, including running a national helpline, providing training programs, and conducting research to better understand and address the issue of suicide in the country. I’m aiming to meet with their CEO, Nelson Vinod Moses, to discuss suicide prevention for young people. 

In preparation for this trip it has also been a privilege to connect with Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar, member of the W.H.O’s International Network for Suicide Research and Prevention and honorary Associate Professor in the University of Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Vijayakumar founded SNEHA over 30 years ago and set up the first ever suicide prevention helpline in India following a trip to the UK to meet the Samaritans.

My aim is that this trip and these connections can lead to similar inspiration and innovations in the suicide prevention space that have a real meaningful impact.

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The next stop on Rory’s journey in India was meeting with Priti Sridhar, CEO of the Mariwala Health

A visit to the Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy! 

We’d like to say a massive thank you to the team at the Centre for Mental Health Law

Charlie Thomson raised £3,250 for Olly’s Future by running in the Brighton Marathon

Charlie Thomson, our fantastic Chair, raised an amazing £3,250 for Olly’s Future by running in the Brighton Marathon