Student Highlight: Mehreen Arif

October 23, 2017
Mehreen in front of a Tibetan settlement office and primary health care clinic.

GPH MPH student Mehreen Arif shares her fight for health and human rights at the Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights Symposium.

Eyes set on the well-being of refugees and migrants, Mehreen Arif found her footing in mental health and the toll it takes on minority populations.

Mehreen traveled with classmates to a January-term course in Florence, Italy. Her studies shed light on the health of migrants in hotspots and refugee camps throughout the Mediterranean. Overcrowding, violence, and consistent unrest took an immense toll on the mental health of those forcibly removed from their homes and left to live in dire conditions. She made it her mission to focus her MPH degree on the health and advocacy of refugees.

Upon her return, Mehreen accepted the Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights, an opportunity allowing her to work alongside HealthRight International to assess depression, PTSD, and access to mental health services for Tibetan refugees in Kathmandu, Nepal. The Gallatin fellowship enabled Mehreen to work for two months with HealthRight International’s partner, the Friends of Shanta Bhawan Clinic. She spent time shadowing physicians and conducting her research, experiencing the challenges that accompany health and human rights work, from the irregularity of field work to the emotional distress felt from listening to stories told by refugees. Mehreen conducted 41 interviews in total and wrote a blog documenting her journey.

Welcome at FSB clinic by Executive Director Mr. Sanjaya Basnyat

Upon returning to New York, Mehreen was reminded of the human rights issues of refugees as a film about the Dalai Lama was released. She was heartened to know that conversations and issues she confronted in Nepal are being discussed and are of concern to people around the world. She continues to work with HealthRight International to analyze her research findings from Nepal.

Mehreen reminds us that we have “to be culturally cognizant of the areas where [we] work...There is still a lot of stigma around mental health that needs to be dissipated first in order for any policies to go into action, and that’s where human rights work comes in.”

If interested in learning more about the Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights and more incredible stories of students like Mehreen click here to visit their website. Applications for 2018 Fellows are now open until Wednesday, November 1st at midnight.

For more information on HealthRight International and the partnered HealthRight Student Lab with NYU GPH click here to visit their website.