The Big Picture

Adapting photovoice to enhance psychological, social and cultural insights into, and prevention and treatment of, youth substance use in India (September 2018 – February 2022).


This project seeks to understand the experience of young Assamese people around risk, recovery and resilience in relation to substance abuse and mental health. The goal is to increase knowledge, enhance the voice of young people, and inform practice through impacting policy and promoting public awareness.


We learn from two groups of young Assamese people who show resilience to substance abuse. The first group are fifteen 15-18 year olds (7 male, 8 female) at increased risk of substance abuse but who have managed to stay clean. The second group are fifteen 19-24 year olds (11 male, 4 female) who have engaged successfully in drug rehabilitation. Participants are invited to bring photos to interview to convey their experience of risk, resilience and recovery. This material is analysed using Thematic Analysis. Participants are invited to create a poster from their photos and to take part in film-making workshops. We also map research-to-policy-pathways and interview, and hold workshops with, key stakeholders involved in mental health policy and practice in Assam. This material is analysed using Framework Analysis. Finally, we collaborate with organisations in India to understand the potential of embedding visual methods in their work and to build their mental health research and service delivery capacity.


This project is led by Anna Madill with Siobhan Hugh-Jones, Paul Cooke, and Tolib Mirzoev (University of Leeds, UK) and Rebecca Graber (University of Brighton, UK). The Research Fellow is Raginie Duara and the PhD student is Chloe Brooks. Our Advisory Group consists of experts across India and the UK:

– Diptarup Chowdhury (Clinical Psychology Department Head, LGB Regional Institute of Mental Health, NE India)
– J. K. Lakshmi (Senior Research Fellow, George Institute for Global Health, Telangana, South India)
– Kaaren Mathias (Emmanuel Hospital Association, New Delhi, North India)
– N. S. Prashanth (Assistant Director, Institute of Public Health Bengaluru, Karnataka, SW India)
– Richard de Visser (Centre for Innovation & Research in Childhood & Youth, University of Sussex)
– Rima Shetty (Addictions Practitioner, Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru, Karnataka, SW India).


The Big Picture is conducted in partnership with MIND IndiaNIRMAAN Rehabilitation Facility and HOPE Foundation Rehabilitation Facility, our key contacts respectively, Dr Sangeeta Goswami, Ratul Dey and Dipanka Baruah. The Big Picture is funded by an Economic and Social Research Council/Arts and Humanities Research Council Global Challenges Research Fund (Mental Health) grant ES/S00047X/1.


Aim 1 (Increase knowledge): To enhance psychological, social and cultural insights into the experience of risk, resilience and recovery with regard to youth substance use in Assam.
     Outcome 1: Pathways to Recovery Model
     Outcome 2: Publications

Aim 2 (Enhance voice): To promote young Assamese people’s voice with respect to substance use in order to reduce stigma, raise public awareness and inform mental- and public-health policy and practice.
     Outcome 1: Participant posters
     Outcome 2: Co-produced films (scroll down)

Aim 3 (Inform practice): To learn if and how photovoice can be adapted in culturally-sensitive ways to enhance local mental health services seeking to prevent and treat youth substance use in Assam.
     Outcome 1: Workshop materials
     Outcome 2: Educational and intervention material

For help on downloading IP please see Resources – Guidance Information

PARTICIPANT POSTERS: 15-18 year olds at increased risk of substance abuse

PARTICIPANT POSTERS: 19-24 year olds who have engaged successfully in drug rehabilitation

Pathways to Recovery Model of Youth Substance Abuse in Assam



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