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Dr.Meghna Singhal

Dr. Meghna Singhal receiving the achiever’s award from Dr. Chenraj Roychand, President, Jain University

Dr. Meghna Singhal Won the Best Research Paper Award

Dr. Meghna Singhal is one of those individuals who is passionate about her research. Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, Jain University, and a clinical psychologist, Dr. Meghna presented her research paper “Efficacy of an Indian Indicated program for adolescents at-risk for Depression” recently at the “International Congress of Clinical and Health Psychology with Children and Adolescents” held at Madrid, Spain, and won the best research paper award. Read on to find out more about Dr. Meghna and her achievements.

How did you become aware of the “International Congress of Clinical and Health Psychology with Children and Adolescents”?

As a practicing clinical psychologist, I am continually on the lookout for opportunities to share my research and network with other professionals in my field. Finding out about other clinical psychologists convening together and disseminating research findings is an important part of that process. Information about this conference was made available to me through a Google search, since I was specifically looking for a platform to meet with experts in the field of child and adolescent psychology and share my research findings.

“Efficacy of an Indian Indicated program for adolescents at-risk for Depression”, how did you conceive this paper? Was this specifically created with the International Congress in mind or have you been doing research on the subject for a long period?

This was a part of my PhD research, which I pursued at NIMHANS. I had always been interested in subclinical mental health conditions and preventative therapeutics, and PhD offered me the prospect of deploying my clinical proficiency into mitigating risk for adolescents with subclinical depression.

In your paper, you mention the need to implement programs to address subclinical psychopathology among adolescents in Indian schools. Is it a big problem in India?

Subclinical depression constitutes a big problem, not just in India but also worldwide. Depressive disorders in adolescents exist on a continuum and it is important to differentiate clinical from subclinical depression for a number of reasons. First, assessment studies have emphasized how the individuals who demonstrate elevated levels of symptoms but do not meet interview-based diagnostic criteria (labelled ‘false-positives’) differ in important ways from diagnosed (or ‘true-positive’) participants. Second, it has been shown that subclinical levels of depressive symptoms are associated with considerable impairment as well as increased risk for clinical depression. Identification of subclinical depression in adolescents, thus, constitutes an important goal.

How do we identify these students? How can a layperson/teacher assess whether a student is at-risk of depression or not?

We can identify students with subclinical depression using standardized psychological pencil-and-paper assessments. However, one needs to be trained to administer, score, and evaluate these tests, and thus, only clinical psychologists can perform these assessments.

Should the faculty be trained to identify these traits among their students? How do we sensitize the parents and teachers?

To train and sensitize teachers and parents to varied problems faced by students is the need of the hour. However, such training should be delivered carefully, while avoiding use of terms such as “depression” or “subclinical depression” in order to avoid stigmatization and labelling. The training should ideally encompass delivering information on the various stress-related conditions found among students, how these conditions commonly manifest themselves, and how to recognize the varied signs of problem in different students. It should also involve training the teachers and parents in delivering short-term interventions that are tailored to the specific needs of the student.

Dr. Meghna Singhal Receiving the Award

Dr. Meghna Singhal with the citation for best international research

What was the major objective of the school-based intervention program that you conducted?

The major objective of the study was to a) develop an intervention program aimed at arresting the progression of depressive symptoms in school-going adolescents, and b) examining whether this program actually works in our setting

What is the Coping Skills Program that you devised? How does it function?

As mentioned before, the Coping Skills program was aimed at helping school-going adolescents deal with their depressive symptoms. The program consisted of 3 components: a) dealing with negative thoughts, b) dealing with academic stress, and c) dealing with difficult interpersonal situations. These components were devised after conducting an empirical investigation into the risk factors of depression unique to the Indian cultural context.

Explain to us the culture and gender-sensitiveness pertaining to depression. Is the girl-child more prone to depression in the Indian context because of the prevailing social conditions?

The girl-child is more prone to depression not just in the Indian cultural context but world-wide. So obviously biology has a role to play. But there are important cultural influences in how depression finds expression in different cultures. Also, although the symptoms may be the same across cultures, how they relate to each other, what elements they represent, and how they express themselves on assessment measures, may differ.

The girl-child is more prone to depression not just in the Indian cultural context but world-wide. So obviously biology has a role to play. But there are important cultural influences in how depression finds expression in different cultures. Also, although the symptoms may be the same across cultures, how they relate to each other, what elements they represent, and how they express themselves on assessment measures, may differ.

Tell us about your experience at the International Congress in Madrid. What were the major highlights for you?

The experience at the International Conference at Madrid was enriching. I had the opportunity to interact with researchers from across 35 countries, and learn about the latest developments in the field of child and adolescent clinical and health psychology. The major highlights were the new insights into the developmental and experimental psychopathology of anxiety by Dr. Peter Murris (Maastricht University, Holland),and a narrative approach to psychological intervention to death in the family presented by Dr. Robert Neimeyer (University of Memphis, USA). Both these talks were extremely informative and insightful.

Jain University’s Department of Psychology is doing phenomenal work. What is the secret?

The secret behind the Department of Psychology’s phenomenal work is our Head of the Department, Dr. Shailaja Shastri. She is an amazing professional, who encourages academic freedom, and fosters an atmosphere of positivity in the workspace.

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Author - Admin

Jain University Bangalore