Who Are We?
Medicine Beyond Classroom is a social impact start-up, founded in 2019 in India. We are primarily focused on empowering children, adolescents, and young adults in India with psychosocial competence to cope healthily with the inevitable stresses of everyday life in a fast-evolving world.
What We Do?
MBC is focused on empowering communities by making them self-sufficient in preventive mental healthcare services. Initiating life skills education for children, adolescents, and young adults is our short-term goal. To build grassroots capacity in life skills education, we affiliate with public health non-profits, medical colleges, local schools, and government agencies.
How Do We function?
Medicine Beyond Classroom was founded with a strong commitment to adopting an integrated approach. MBC's model is based on the integration of community-based health interventions with community-based medical education and community-based research.
The Community-Based MBC Model
Why We Do What We Do?
Importance of Mental Well-Being
Mental well-being beyond the mere absence of mental disorders is often overlooked. An individual's mental health is reflected in the thoughts they think, the emotions they feel, and the behaviors they exhibit. Children, adolescents, and young adults are frequently exposed to a plethora of stressors, such as those in their family or school environment, stressors related to mental, emotional, and physical changes, relationship issues, sexual identity, and bullying to name a few. Experiencing stress and manifesting behaviors that reflect mental turmoil is not uncommon or abnormal in itself. However, if the state of mental stress persists for a long time and is left unaddressed, it can result in psychological or psychiatric disturbances and disorders in the future, often well into adulthood. In fact, 50-75% of adult mental illnesses begin during childhood, before the age of 18 years. Hence, it is crucial to equip young populations with the psychosocial competence to cope healthily with the inevitable challenges of life. It is also important to acknowledge the factors that may cause stress to the young and to make them feel heard and supported in their time of crisis.
Preventive Mental Healthcare
As the mental patterns established during developmental years influence the lifelong mental well-being of an individual, MBC is focused on "Primordial Prevention" in mental health. This means that even before the risks for poor mental health emerge, we use tools such as life skills education, to empower the youth with the skills to cope effectively with the stresses of everyday life. This also includes equipping them with the knowledge about when and where to seek support.
Life Skills and Their Strategic Role in Preventive Mental Healthcare
Life Skills form the basis of our intervention programs. Life Skills are defined by the World Health Organization as "Abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life”. WHO defines 10 life skills which can be categorised as follows:
Integrating Community Mental Well-Being with Medical Education
Another population that MBC feels strongly about is Medical Students, who form a unique subset of the youth population. MBC routinely engages medical students in its activities. Since the medical field in India is highly competitive and academic in nature, the students often experience exceptional stress during their time in training. While foundational reforms are being made in the Indian medical education system, it will understandably take time to alter the very fabric of traditional evaluation in the country. The system continues to remain largely focused on evaluations that are based on information recall. It largely overlooks the wide-range of cognitive and non-cognitive strengths of students, leaving them with scarce opportunities to explore their self-worth and potential to create a positive impact beyond classrooms. Many students end up graduating from medical school with a broken spirit and diminished self-esteem. MBC steps in here, providing a platform for medical students to recognize their self-worth regardless of external validation and marks in exams. MBC helps them build on their strengths, while also overcoming their weaknesses. Leveraging the strategic community access of 80,000+ medical students enrolled annually in Indian medical colleges, MBC aims to utilize their potential to reach the 300 million+ adolescents in India. By training medical students as life skills trainers for the adolescent populations, MBC aims to help these young minds discover their self-worth while helping others realize their own.
Medical students being trained by MBC to provide life skills education in rural schools (Anand, Gujarat, India)
What Is The Story Behind MBC?
Dr. Chitra Pandya
Founder, Medicine Beyond Classroom
MD Community Medicine (2021)
Diploma in Community Mental Health, NIMHANS (2022)
Dr. Chitra Pandya is a public health physician. She completed her undergraduate medical education (MBBS) from AMC MET Medical College, LG Hospital, Ahmedabad, India in 2017 and her MD Community Medicine/Preventive and Social Medicine from Pramukhswami Medical College, Karamsad, Gujarat, India in 2021. She founded Medicine Beyond Classroom as a resident doctor in 2019, to pursue her passion for integrating Community-based Preventive Mental Healthcare, Medical Education, and Research.
The Medicine Beyond Classroom (MBC) philosophy of developing symbiotic interventions, which integrate community well-being with medical students’ well-being stems from Dr. Pandya’s first-hand experiences as a student in the Indian medical education system. Though witnessing landmark reforms in recent times, medical education in India has traditionally focused on summative evaluation of information recall, failing to hone, recognize, acknowledge, and reward a wide range of cognitive and non-cognitive skills among students, which are indispensable when nurturing generations after generations of doctors. Struggling with low self-esteem and a lack of self-worth for not being recognized for the strengths they possess, Dr. Pandya strongly felt that the medical education system had failed its students, literally and figuratively.
She has since been committed to evolving the way students learn medicine. She founded Medicine Beyond Classroom in 2019 during her residency in Communtiy Medicine, with the aim to create a platform where students could engage closely with the local communities for community-based problem-solving. The initial interventions of MBC proved to benefit the underserved communities as well as the medical students. On one hand, local health issues were addressed collaboratively. On the other hand, medical students reported increasing self-esteem as they got a chance to explore their potential to create a positive impact beyond the classroom and examinations. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response of the communities and the medical students, Dr. Pandya expanded MBC into a social start-up, focused on solving community health problems by engaging medical students, interns, and resident doctors, along with grassroots workers from the government and non-profit sectors.
Having grown up with parents who have dedicated over 30 years of pediatric practice to improving the mental well-being of children, Dr. Pandya has long been sensitized to the importance of cultivating mental well-being among children. Her passion for mental well-being of the young led to Preventive Mental Health becoming the primary focus of MBC. MBC currently focuses on engaging local communities and medical students to develop life skills education interventions for underserved populations. By designing an opportunity for medical students to learn about life skills education, and in turn, spread it to underserved communities, MBC aspires to help medical students discover their self-worth by helping others realize their own.
Acknowledgements and Disclaimer
The content uploaded on this website before May 2021 has been developed during my tenure as a postgraduate student in the Department of Community Medicine at Pramukhswami Medical College (PSMC), Karamsad, Gujarat, India. The academic material uploaded on this website has been developed under the esteemed guidance of the faculty at the Department of Community Medicine, with the support of my colleagues, Medical Social Workers, and other departmental staff. All the activities described on this website in form of text, images, audio or videos were graciously facilitated by the Department of Community Medicine and the institute.
The opinions expressed on this website are completely my own and I am responsible for them. Any errors in the academic material on this website are to be attributed to me and shall be corrected when duly brought to my notice.
All the Community images/videos featuring other persons were taken after obtaining appropriate permissions. Use of any of these images/videos elsewhere is strictly prohibited. My prior permission is required for using these images/videos in any form anywhere.
I am extremely grateful to the Department of Community Medicine, the Pramukhswami Medical College, and Shree Krishna Hospital for being so supportive and encouraging. Without them, it would have been impossible for me to get the exposure and the opportunities that I have got and will get in the future.
This website is my humble tribute to the subject of Community Medicine, to the Pramukhswami Medical College, and to the Department of Community Medicine, PSMC.
Dr. Chitra Pandya
Founder, Medicine Beyond Classroom