Prof Vikram Patel, a leading mental health expert of international repute, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Stellenbosch University at its December graduation. He received the degree Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil), honoris causa, on Monday (5 December 2022) at an in-person graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Patel was honoured for his outstanding contribution to psychiatry and psychology, his commitment to community service through the promotion of mental health initiatives in the developing world, and his generosity in sharing his knowledge to develop students, academics and practitioners in his field of expertise.
In his acceptance speech, Patel expressed his deepest gratitude to SU for conferring on him the honorary degree.
“I am truly humbled by your generosity and especially delighted to be honoured on the soil of Africa, by a university in Southern Africa because this is the region where I began my own professional journey more than three decades ago to understand how to support people who struggle with mental health."
Patel added that the honorary degree is proof that “one can take a path less popular, but one that is close to your heart, and yet lead a fulfilling life with purpose, meaning and recognition".
He encouraged the graduates to engage with the issues of our time to secure their future and that of coming generations.
More about Patel
Prof Vikram Patel, a psychiatrist and mental health expert, is a leading figure in the global mental health movement, and a key contributor to the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental disorders in low and middle-income countries.
This excellent scholar is the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School's Blavatnik Institute. His work focuses on the burden of mental health problems, their link with social disadvantage, and the use of community resources to prevent and treat them. Patel also has strong links with Stellenbosch University, having co-published and co-researched with several researchers of the University.
Named as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2015, he has been a key figure in convincing governments and international agencies that paying attention to mental health should form a cornerstone of all development efforts worldwide.
He is a co-founder of the Movement for Global Mental Health, the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as well as the Mental Health Innovations Network. Patel also helped establish Sangath, an Indian non-profit organisation, which won the World Health Organisation's Public Health Champion of India prize.
Photo: Prof Vikram Patel at the graduation ceremony. Photographer: Stefan Els.