Global Visiting Scholar uses film to educate about mental health There was not a dry eye in the room as the 2013 family drama, ASTU-So Be It, came to a close. The film chronicles the life of Dr. Chakrapani Shastri, a retired professor suffering from dementia, who goes missing while in the care of his daughter. The screening was just one part of psychiatrist and internationally renowned film and stage actor Mohan Agashe’s week-long visit to Virginia Commonwealth University as a Global Visiting Scholar during fall 2016. Agashe, who plays the film’s lead character, is a mental health advocate who uses film to educate students about the different aspects of mental health. “Film came along as a tool of business, not a tool of education like print media,” said Agashe. “I use film to educate, because it removes the barriers created by print media. It allows students to feel the emotions connected to treating patients with mental illness.” Agashe’s expertise in the fields of psychiatry and acting are mutually complementary and he is well respected in both circles. He is former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at BJ Medical College and founding director of the Maharashtra Institute of Mental Health both in Pune, India. His film career 16
spans more than four decades, having directed, produced and acted in more than 100 films. In 1996, Agashe was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, India’s highest recognition given to actors. “He combines a number of different disciplines like medicine, psychiatry, film and acting,” said Ananda Pandurangi, MBBS, MD, professor of psychiatry in the VCU School of Medicine who hosted Agashe. “I felt that students from a broad range of subjects – medicine, social work, film and acting – would all benefit from his contributions. Plus, having him here is a good way of showing the university’s commitment to advocacy for mental health and reducing stigma surrounding the issue.” In addition to the film screening, while at VCU, Agashe collaborated with the community through the National Alliance for Mental Illness–Central Virginia Chapter and met with students in VCU Globe as a guest lecturer, using short movie clips as tools of education. Agashe’s visit was sponsored in part by the VCUPGIMER International Partnership and funded by a Quest Global Impact Award.
Published on Apr 5, 2017
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