The Most Unlikely (And Important) Thing You’ll See At This Year’s C.R. Park Pujo

Posted on October 7, 2016 in Culture-Vulture, Mental Health, Society

By YKA Staff:

A Durga Puja pandal is probably the least likely venue that comes to mind when discussing mental health issues. But this is exactly what will transpire this year. Amidst the festivity of the massive Durga Puja pandal in Chittaranjan Park, a suburb in New Delhi, we shall experience an innovative 5-day event that aims to creatively engage young people on the issues of mental health, culminating on October 10, World Mental Health Day.

This seemingly unorthodox choice of venue is in fact interesting, due to the rising footfalls at Durga Puja pandals and especially since a subject that invites so much stigma will be explored in a contemporary vein – using the performance arts, film and multimedia.

This year, the WHO’s theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘psychological first-aid’, which explores the importance for both psychological and social support to be available to those coping with mental health issues, and how these interactions can pave the way for an environment of calm, hope and empowerment.

In India, depression, anxiety and conduct disorders (the ‘common mental disorders’) account for over 75% of the burden of mental disorders amongst the youth. According to the PRIDE project, there’s a considerable body of evidence to suggest that a range of psychological treatments are effective for treating mental disorders in adolescents. However, the vast majority of young people do not receive these treatments.

Secondly, much of the existing evidence comes from high income countries, and there are questions about how relevant this evidence is for settings where interventions can only be delivered by non-specialized health workers, where the cultural explanations for mental health problems are rarely biomedical, and where the demand for mental health care is low.

In this context, the event, is part of a larger mental health initiative led by eminent psychiatrist and researcher, Prof. Vikram Patel, Co-Director of the Centre for Control of Chronic Conditions at PHFI (Public Health Foundation of India), which aims to create a dialogue with youth in India on mental health and develop a psycho-social intervention for school-going adolescents.

“Even though mental health difficulties are common in young people, they are often hidden from view for a variety of reasons, not least the stigma and shame attached to these problems. Using the arts and new media can be a more effective way to engage young people and bring mental health out of the shadows,” shares Prof. Patel.

The ultimate aim of the event and the initiative is to highlight that there is no shame in asking for help. Mental health is as important as physical health, and must be taken just as seriously.

The event ‘WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY ’16’ includes a unique kiosk with a multimedia interactive exhibit, and some power-packed performances by youth organisations Music Basti, Dribble Academy, Manzil and Shapno Ekhon. Hosted by PHFI’s PRIDE project, you can get details on the event here. The PRIDE project is a research programme seeking to develop psychosocial interventions for adolescents with mental health problems in India. It is implemented by PHFI, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Sangath, and supported by the Wellcome Trust, UK. For more information, please visit PRIDE.