Sangath is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation committed to improving health across the life span by empowering existing community resources to provide appropriate physical, psychological and social therapies. Its primary focus areas include child development, adolescent and youth health, and adult health and chronic disease.
Started in 1996 by seven professionals in Goa, Sangath developed a vision to provide professional healthcare services for developmental disabilities and mental health problems. Today, it is one of the largest NGOs in the state, with more than 100 service providers, two centres in Goa, projects across India, collaborations with leading institutions in the world, and international recognition for its path-breaking research and intervention programmes in the community.
We started with clinical services, but soon realised that there was a very poor follow-up rate of families. Sangath then began developing ways of making mental healthcare more accessible and affordable for the wider community. This is done in consultation with healthcare providers, community members, people with mental health problems and their family members.
At the heart of our vision lies the ‘treatment gap’ for mental health problems in India, i.e the very large gap between the number of people with a mental disorder or disability, and the number of those who receive the care that can greatly improve the quality of their lives. A major barrier to closing this treatment gap is the lack of affordable care in community settings like their own homes, schools and primary health care centres.
Our pioneering strategy has been to use relatively low-cost human resources, by empowering ordinary people and community health workers, to deliver mental healthcare with appropriate training and supervision from experts.
As a result of our success in designing effective and low-cost models of care for people with mental health problems, Sangath has been able to contribute to improving the quality of mental health care, not just in Goa, but in other parts of the country, and globally.
Our work is driven by a few guiding principles:
- Multi-disciplinary interventions: We believe that a mix of social, psychological and medical interventions is needed to improve the health of our community. The collaboration of diverse academic and health disciplines is likely to generate the most effective treatments.
- Linking services with research: Sangath insists that its work be based on the best evidence available and that all that we do must be thoroughly evaluated and disseminated.
- Participatory methods: We strive to engage with beneficiaries and involve them actively in our work
- Inter-sectoral collaboration: Sangath believes that existing community resources, especially those in the public sector, provide the most sustainable setting for delivering interventions. Our work today involves a collaborative framework involving key partnerships with government health services, department of education, schools, other NGOs and the Goa Medical College.
- Scaling up: Our dream is to develop a model of care that is scaled up through government machinery. We constantly engage with policy makers right from developing our projects to disseminating our findings to achieve this goal.
Sangath is a nodal agency for the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Disabilities. We have also been awarded numerous awards in recognition of our work.
We hope you enjoy reading about the things we do. Many thanks for your support, and do not hesitate to get in touch, should you need further information.