Conference Outline

Mental Health, Migration and Resilience: Innovative methodologies for Research, Policy and Practice in India

17 and 18 September 2019, Pune, India

UPDATE (19 August 2019): This conference will now be FREE to attend; but attendees MUST REGISTER to attend as we only have a limited number of places available on a first come, first served basis.

A joint conference hosted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Institute of Health Management Pachod (IHMP), the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) and De Montfort University (DMU).

Globally, the number of internal migrants has been estimated at three quarters of a billion people. India itself is home to some 326 million internal migrants (28.5% of the population) in addition to the nation’s 11.3 million transnational migrants (UNESCO, 2013). Many arrive at city slums or bastis, seeking work, better prospects and a better way of life; Pune alone has 564 bastis.

And while much mental health literature around migration hitherto has sought a better understanding of the biological, psychological and environmental risk factors for mental health among migrants, there is now a growing recognition that focusing solely on negative risk factors can obscure understanding people’s positive capabilities for mental health, even among those confronting severe challenges and life circumstances. And this, in turn, can lead to over-reliance on expert-led top-down interventions at the expense of bottom-up community-based approaches. Meanwhile, the concept of resilience has become prominence across a range of international development fields in recent times and is increasingly applied in health care: the mental health resilience of migrants is thus a timely theme for policy makers and practitioners.

The conference has five main aims:

  1. To explore the concept of resilience in relation to public mental health and migrant communities.
  2. To explore how public mental health and the mental health resilience of migrants might best be supported and developed, and in ways that are practical, acceptable and appropriate.
  3. To consider how community theatre and other participative arts can help us explore and give voice to migrants and their stories, particularly in relation to mental health and resilience.
  4. To consider innovative participatory methodologies for exploring lived experiences of internal slum dwelling migrants in India and its implications for research, policy and practice.

This conference is aimed at medical, health and social care researchers, practitioners and service providers, including academics, postgraduates, psychiatrists, psychologists, community workers and social workers. It is also for policy makers, policy implementers, NGOs, corporate and corporate social responsibility (CSR) sectors.


Indicative outline of the two day conference:


  • Theatre performance of Listen, Listen – a community play created by migrants.
  • Dissemination of research on mental health and resilience of migrants in a Pune basti.
  • Social sciences methodologies for exploring mental health of migrants in slum settings
  • The relevance of participatory arts and theatre methodologies for researching communities and mental health.
  • How can research inform policymakers on appropriate public mental health interventions for migrants?
  • What do policymakers, implementers, NGOs and corporate/CSRs want/need from researchers?
  • What are the benefits of a ‘resilience’ approach to mental health and migration?




  • Concise summary of Day 1 research dissemination, debate and discussion.
  • What do researchers and academics want/need from policymakers, implementers, NGOs and corporate/CSRs?
  • Keynote speakers (e.g. Santosh from NIMHANS)
  • How can policymakers, implementers, NGOs and corporates support mental health and resilience for migrants and slum dwellers?
  • Connections between resilience for mental health and resilience against climate and other environmental factors.