On 20 May, the James P Grant School of Public Health, Georgetown University and Department of Economics and Social Sciences, BRAC University organised the fifth Speakers’ Forum on Faith, Mental and Emotional Well-Being in Bangladesh.
The fifth Speakers’ Forum focused on the much over-looked topic of mental health in Bangladesh and the many critical intersections with religious belief and practice. It explored the impact of religious ideas on local etiologies of mental illness and approaches to mental health treatment and stigma reduction.
The Forum commenced with opening remarks by Katherine Marshall (Executive Director, World Faiths Development Dialogue, Georgetown University) and featured a first panel discussion led by Rahul Shidhaye (Research Scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Public Health Foundation of India) and Monira Rahman (Founder and Executive Director, Innovation for Wellbeing Foundation). The speakers discussed regional and local perspectives of mental health in South Asia and shared preliminary observations on the role of faith and faith-based practitioners in Bangladesh.
The second panel session engaged faith-inspired approaches to overcome stigma around mental illness with speakers such as Naomi Iwamoto (a Nurse at L’Arche Community, a French-based NGO in Mymensingh) who works with individuals with intellectual disabilities. The panel also had Ashna Chowdhury (Learning & Development Specialist and Founder of Thrive) who merges psychological tools and coaching frameworks to nurture leadership and wellbeing skills such as emotional intelligence, effective communication, and stress-management.