My name is Madhura Leninkannan and I am currently entering my fourth year at Pitt where I am majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies (Social Medicine). Outside of class I serve as the Co-Director for Dhirana (a charity Indian classical dance competition), mentor international students through Global Ties, act as a coordinator for clinical research on pediatric traumatic brain injuries, and tutor ESL students learning English. In my free time I love to learn new languages (fun fact I can understand five different languages), listen to music, take photos, make films, and dance.
My major goals in life are to understand not only the scientific factors affecting human health but also the various social and cultural factors that affect it that are now becoming an increasingly researched topic. I also hope to spend my life helping the marginalized communities of the world, whether that is the underserved population in the United States or impoverished communities in third world countries. I hope to further these goals through engaging in meaningful research opportunities (like I am doing so with the Brackenridge Fellowship), pursuing a master’s in public health, becoming a physician that is culturally competent and well-versed in the multidisciplinary nature of healthcare, and volunteering my time to help marginalized communities through healthcare. The Brackenridge Fellowship is specifically helping me on my track to achieving my goals since I am going to pursue a project that is directly looking into a cultural and educational factor (mental health literacy) that could potentially affect health and wellbeing in the Latinx community. Having such an opportunity is allowing me to gain more experiential learning about the social and cultural determinants of health in a community that I would love to learn more about.
Specifically, my project for this fellowship is looking into how mental health literacy in Latinx parents could affect their children’s mental health outcomes under the guidance of Dr. Patricia Documet. I will be executing this project through gathering data in the form of questionnaires filled out by eligible Latinx parents in the Pittsburgh area. Various research studies have previously found that the Latinx community is one that fares worse in terms of mental health. My research project is trying to understand one of the factors of why such a health disparity exists, which could potentially help influence community-based mental health education programs. Additionally, we all experienced a particularly unique past year with the rise of a pandemic, which will have lasting effects on mental health into the coming years. Thus, it is especially meaningful to focus on understanding the factors affecting mental health and to find methods to improve this area which already affects a significant and increasing proportion of people.