One of our newest Rotarians of Ajijic Club, Jeanette Monosoff, PhD, and her husband, David Haley, a honorary Rotarian, spent 14 of the last 15 years in the Adivasi tribal area of Palghar District, two hours north of Mumbai. She and her husband volunteered as directors of a small NGO, OMGMT, of about 70 staff members, mostly tribal members themselves, to address the various problems facing the local tribal people. In those 14 years, she witnessed several young adult NGO staff members, or their family members commit suicide or attempt suicide. As a psychologist, she was personally pained to witness loved ones choose this devastating solution and wondered over and over what could be done to prevent this tragedy.

Research has shown a disproportionate occurrence of suicide among indigenous populations world-wide, and the same is true for India.  The scheduled tribes (ST) population in India is a marginalized community living in relative social isolation with poorer health indices, fewer health-care facilities and almost no capacity for providing mental health care compared to similar nontribal populations. The traditional livelihood system of the STs are in conflict with the forces of modernization, resulting not only in the loss of customary rights over the livelihood resources but also in subordination and further, developing low self-esteem, causing great psychological stress.

India reports the highest number of suicide deaths in the world with Indian girls and women twice the global rate. In India, suicide accounts for most deaths in the 15–39 years age group compared with other causes of death.

Rotary Club of Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico has started a project to address this great problem of suicide among the tribals of Palghar district by providing a proven solution for emotional and mental health problems. The project  will focus mostly on youth and women's groups, as suicide is more prevalent  in that population. This project will teach students, women's
groups, farmers' groups and government hospital staff tools for self-regulation of  emotionalstates.

The NGO in Palghar District, OMGMT,  has conducted an online zoom class of 16 hours teaching these skills to its staff, with over half being tribal members. The program was based on HeartMath Institute's class, “Resilience Advantage”. HeartMath Institute has been conducting scientific research for over 25 years on the power of the heart in self-regulating one's emotional state. (www.heartmath.org)  All participants took the techniques into their home life and work life with remarkable results.

A study was done in Gujarat by an Indian psychologist proving that the Heartmath Institute's techniques did reduce the depression of young adults.  The study showed significant changes in psychophysiological coherence, negative feeling states and positive feeling state after five sessions of HeartMath techniques.

An OMGMT staff member will take the online course from HeartMath Institute in Coherence Advantage.  Once certified as a HeartMath Trainer,  he will offer to the local elementary and secondary schools, hospitals, women's groups, farmer groups offering classes in various lengths,  2- 12 hours per group.

OMGMT currently teaches physical yoga to 2500 students each week at 13 schools. The Heartmath trainer will offer the course to same students, as well as target OMGMT's 25+ women's self-help groups (15 people each), and farmers groups (30 per group), and offer courses in local government hospitals.  There are many more schools, self-help groups, and hospitals to bring this information to in the tribal belt of Palghar district. To create sustainability, it will be mandatory that teachers, nurses and managers at each school and hospital receive the training and dispense appropriately after training is complete.

"Effect of Quick Coherence Technique on Psychophysiological Coherence, Heart Rate Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Feeling State in Young Adults in India"; Journal of Psychology and Neuroscience; March 11, 2021, Dr. Shilpa Jasubhai, Consultant and Clinical Psychologist in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.