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Previous SAS Co-Chair
Graduate Student

Advisor: Dr. Jocelyn Chua
Alumni Building 303B

About Sugandh

I am a medical anthropologist and a psychologist with an interest in critically studying mental health policies, processes, and institutions. I was born in Delhi, India and raised in a joint family with working class parents. I am a first generation member of my family to pursue higher education and study abroad. I am living with my husband and a toddler boy.

I am passionate about demystifying mental health and making it accessible for all. I am also interested in examining the proliferation of psychiatric knowledge in everyday lives of laypersons and understanding the growth of various psychotherapeutic modalities in modern day India. I have conducted ethnographic research in New Delhi and Jammu City, Jammu and Kashmir, India.

I also ran a magazine called PsyInsight and I am currently on the advisory board of MAD in South Asia ( Before pursuing PhD, I was engaged in multiple research projects in India for which I conducted fieldwork in different cultural environment and low resource settings in collaboration with local community stakeholders. I have worked across India in the areas of education, disability, de-addiction, migration and refugee health, and workplace challenges. I am proficient in Hindi, English, Dogri, and Punjabi languages.

Research Interests

Addiction, Psy sciences and medicine, Jammu & Kashmir, South Asia, Ethnography, Conflict, Indian Psychiatry, Global Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Harm Reduction

Research Background

My dissertation examines the social and clinical impacts of long-term militarization and political conflict on injecting drug users (IDUs), mental health professionals, and government programs that seek to rehabilitate drug users in Jammu City, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), India. Drawing on my training as an anthropologist and my earlier professional work as a psychologist and de-addiction counselor in India, my dissertation describes how mental health professionals, clients, their families, and government officials struggle to provide regular care and services amidst shifting realities in the region, thus illuminating the social, psychological, and political aspects of addiction in an environment of conflict. This research has implications for regional and national policy reform efforts to expand state-sponsored rehabilitation services; human rights protection through the de-criminalization of drug use and possession and the amendment of draconian Indian anti-narcotic laws; and improved public health interventions for addressing the risk for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis among IDUs.


MA Anthropology, University of North Carolina, 2018; MA Psychology, University of Delhi, India, 2011; BA Applied Psychology, University of Delhi, India, 2009

Previous Courses

ANTH 190– From Ayahuasca to Zoloft: Anthropological Approaches to Drug
ANTH 147– Comparative Healing Systems
ANTH 102– Cultural Anthropology
ANTH 147– Comparative Healing Systems
ANTH 147– Comparative Healing Systems
ANTH 280– Anthropology of War and Peace
ANTH 470– Medicine and Anthropology
ANTH 123– Habitat and Humanity


Gupta, Sugandh. 2021. A Shifting Hospital and Shifting Dependencies in Jammu and Kashmir. Somatosphere: The Hospital Multiple, January 26, 2021.

Gupta, Sugandh. 2018. Experiencing Addiction and Dependency among Youth in Jammu, India. MA Thesis, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Gupta, Sugandh. 2024. Fieldwork in a lockdown before COVID-19 lockdown. [Manuscript submitted to Somatosphere: Fieldwork Vignette]

Placek, Caitlyn; Gupta Sugandh et al. 2024. The Role of Social Support in Improving Mental Health Outcomes for Indian Women Who Use Drugs. [Manuscript submitted for review to Frontiers in Public Health]

Disability severity and risk of new or recurrent intimate partner violence – Evidence from a cohort study in rural Pakistan. Amanda Collins, Joanna Maselko, Ashley Hagaman, Lisa Bates, Sarah Haight, Aparna Kachoria, Sugandh Gupta, Sonia Bhalotra, Siham Sikander, , Amina Bibi. [Manuscript submitted for review to Disability and Health]

Trauma exposure among young children in rural Pakistan: Associations with gender, mental health, and cognitive development. Allison Frost; Amanda Collins; Esther O. Chung; Michelle S. Escobar Carias; Ashley Hagaman; Sugandh Gupta; Amina Bibi; Siham Sikander; Joanna Maselko. [Manuscript submitted to PLOS Global Health]


Invited Talks
2023 Harm Reduction in Jammu City – Undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill.
2022 Assessing the impacts of long-term political conflict on de-addiction services for
IDUs in Jammu City, Jammu and Kashmir, India - Undergraduate Psychology students at The University of West Georgia.
2021 Fieldwork in the Time of COVID-19 - Roundtable discussion by the Race, Difference and Power Concentration and Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research, UNC-CH.
2021 Mental Health Webinar for COVID-19 organized by Khalsa Faith Foundation, India.
2021 Career workshop with Society of Undergraduate Anthropologists, UNC-CH.
2020 Field Research: Methods and Challenges, a talk organized for the UG students at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India
2020 Psychological Counseling and Peer Support services to Delhi Police personnel and migrants in shelter homes during the first wave of COVID-19
2020 How to Cope with COVID-19, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, April, and Government Senior Secondary School, May, New Delhi, India.
2020 Field Methods in Qualitative Research, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, May, New Delhi, India.
2020 Introduction to Substance Abuse, Training of Trainers for Retainer Lawyers and Paralegal Volunteers, January, Government Medical College, Jammu, India.
2020 One-day training on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) for 250 investigators of Government of India’s National Family Health Survey-5, Punjab State.
2019 Research Methods in the Field, Cultural Anthropology Seminar, February, UNC-CH.
2018 Field Methods in Qualitative Research, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, June, New Delhi, India.
2017 Designing Research Proposal, South Asia Seminar, October, UNC-CH.

At Conferences
2023 “The Goddess will take care of me”: Competing Faiths of Drug recovery in Jammu and Kashmir, India. Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November, Toronto, Canada.
2023 Workforce Disrupted: Seeking the Labor Market’s Next Equilibrium. Attended the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise Frontiers of Business Conference, October, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, USA.
2023 “Going ‘Off Script’: Emotion and Accusation in De-Addiction Treatment in Jammu City, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Conference organized in April by the Society for Psychological Anthropology and Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture.
2023 Dawai ke Ghulam - De-addiction services for the youth in Jammu City, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Asia Scholar Network Conference, April, University of North Carolina– Chapel Hill, USA.
2022 De-addiction and Dependency: A study of injecting drug users in Jammu City, Jammsu and Kashmir, India. Junior Fellows Conference, American Institute of Indian Studies, December, Gurgaon, India.
2022 Shadowed and Silenced: Women drug users in Jammu City, Jammu & Kashmir, India. Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November, USA.
2022 Providing care and mental health support to essential workers, migrants, and lay individuals at Delhi, India during COVID-19. Symposium on Health and Community in South Asia, April, the Center for South Asian Studies, University of Hawaii, Manoa
2021 De-Addiction and Dependency (Nirbharta) in Jammu City, India: Post COVID-19. Asia Scholar Network Conference, December, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, USA.
2018 Experiencing De-Addiction and Recovery at a State-Sponsored Institution in Jammu, India. Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November, San Jose, USA.
2018 Public Health Epidemic and Failure of the State. Association for Asian StudNies Conference, July, Ashoka University, India.
2018 Cultural Constructions of the Body, Language and Social Systems in Everyday Mental Health in Delhi, India, Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, January, University of South Carolina, USA.
2016 Co-presented with Dr. Anand Prakash – University of Delhi: Reflections and reactions: Meandering through the in-betweens of Mental Health and Mental Illness. International Conference on Psycho-Social Perspectives on Health and Well-Being, March, Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi, India.

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