Matrika Devkota, the Nepalese founder of the organization
Koshish, has been selected as the 2013 winner of the Dr. Guislain
"Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award for his tireless work to
fight stigma by empowering those suffering from mental illness to
serve as self-advocates. The Dr. Guislain Award program is a joint
project of the Museum Dr. Guislain and Janssen Research &
Development, LLC. Janssen provides financial and in-kind support
for the program. The award winner receives a $50,000 prize that must be used toward
further work to reduce societal stigma about mental health and
disorders of the brain.
"The Dr. Guislain Award represents the work done by mental
health advocates worldwide to fight the often unseen consequences
of stigma," said Siri
Hustvedt, jury member of the Dr. Guislain Award
selection committee and author of a book about her own neurological
illness. "Devkota is a luminous example for all of us who hope to
end stigma, and we are happy to honor his important work in the
mental health community."
Mr. Devkota founded Koshish in 2004, after he recognized the
need for a community support organization that promoted the rights
of mental health patients. The word "koshish" means "making an
effort" in Nepalese and the organization makes an effort to
mainstream mental health and psychosocial disabilities. The
organization frequently serves as a lobbyist on behalf of those
suffering from mental illness, and seeks to improve policy and
public perception surrounding these conditions, while empowering
patients to act as self-advocates.
"It has been rewarding to work on behalf of patients facing
significant stigma as a result of mental illness," said Devkota.
"Through our various efforts, we have seen the beginning of
substantial changes made to Nepal's mental
health infrastructure and policy. I look forwarding to continuing
my work and advancing the rights of those facing stigma as a result
of mental illness."
Koshish emphasizes community level support, including a
clinical, psychological and social approach to treating mental
illness. The organization provides a variety of services for
patients, including a community based self-help program, transit
home services and a peer support program. Koshish also utilizes
social media to spread their messages of advocacy and acceptance
for patients affected by mental illnesses.
Koshish is a nongovernmental organization registered in the
District of Kathmandu,
with the approval of the Nepal Social Welfare Council in 2008. NGO
support for mental illness is crucial in Nepal, as less
than 1 percent of government spending is allocated for mental
"Mr. Devkota's passionate advocacy for those with mental illness
has made a tangible impact for patients living with significant
mental illness in Nepal," said
Brother Rene Stockman, general manager of the Museum Dr. Guislain.
"His work has allowed patients the ability to advocate for
themselves and contributed to increased public knowledge of mental
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