Shining a light on the stigma of mental health
My project of shining light on mental health issues and how they are dealt with in South Asian communities is important to me because I’m a true believer that a person is only truly able to empathise once they have walked in someone else’s shoes. My inspiration came from reaching rock bottom and realising that the only way I could escape, is if I created a way out. More importantly, this meant that I couldn’t be submissive and rely on everything to just fall into place. After getting to a point where I realised it was unhealthy for a person to feel like they’ve reached a dead end for too long, I wanted to make my voice heard, so that I would never feel like this again, but to prevent anyone else from ever feeling like that as well.
I’ve found more and more women to be sharing the stories of their experience after being given the space to be open. The one concern I recognised was pressure, not only from the community, but from family too, where they have to suppress mental health issues since they didn’t feel supported. This has now become something bigger than just me and my story. Now, women within the community are involved in similar situations where they are able to not only relate to each other and feel safer through this, but form their own groups within. It is values such as tolerance and acceptance which bring people together but these are the same qualities which divide us because each person has a breaking point. I want to be able to remove the ‘face’ that families are expected to hold and help women who need the encouragement to get up from rock bottom since it is the burden of the pressure that gets them there.
The nature of my mission is to lift up the carpet under which our society sweeps stigmatic issues. It is often overlooked but just as people can lose value to their lives, it can also be found. These need to be addressed as real issues without people feeling ashamed. I don’t believe that tomorrow will ever arrive because by the time it does, it’ll be today and we will only have delayed our mission further. That is the reason why I have chosen to do this now. Prevention is better than cure so I want to be able to help before its too late, I want to help to build resilience in people and the awareness to recognise that they can reach out for support. When people start to panic and believe that there is a crisis, they tend to see less value in their lives, particularly, when it comes to mental health. My solution to this is to hopefully break the chains of ignorance, which people hold unknowingly. With the approach I will take, reminding women of their true worth, I hope to make them aware of this so that they can live in a society in which they feel safer and at ease.
This blog entry has been written using a framework introduced by Marshall Ganz and his concept of public narrative.
Bijal is a Chakra ’16 Intern working with Lightseekers.
The views expressed on this blog are those of the Chakra Intern