The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.
“Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it isn’t so” – Lemony Snicket.
Mental health is something we don’t understand because we can’t see it. Also, having a mental health issue is a stigma because we feel ashamed about it. People make fun of you for not being “normal”.
I have seen people with lots of trauma and mental health issues going without treatment or therapy. They get burnt out all the time. Being a social worker, I work for a company which employs sex workers in a bid to give them a better life.
Group therapies, mental health classes, individual conferences are parts of my job. When it came to the pandemic, it was challenging for me, because I couldn’t go home and got stuck in a small flat, where most of the neighbours left for their hometown. Spending six months in a room without seeing anyone face-to-face was like a prison for me.
Work from home was not a good idea for me because most of my work was field-related, and most of my beneficiaries didn’t use smartphones. So calling them every other day to follow up was kind of a hassle. But the worst part was the HIV positive women. I had a particular plan for them, but due to COVID-19, I couldn’t reach out to them and provide food and nutrition supplements or anything.
The sex worker community had no customers, which meant no money; they actually struggled for food. I was getting lots of calls from them. I am not really a phone-friendly person, but during the lockdown, this was the only way to connect with the world.
I was overwhelmed, anxious, and tensed after getting their calls, and this was actually affecting my health. As a panic attack survivor working in a traumatic field, sometimes the stories of others triggers my own trauma, which is called secondary trauma.
So I started feeling lonely, helpless and angry about the situation, but then, my supervisor /counsellor came to my rescue. She is a certified mental health therapist and practitioner in New York. We had weekly meetings where we discussed my feelings.
In the case of mental health issues, it’s imperative to find someone trustworthy to share all the emotions to clean up loads of mixed feelings, which can feel burdensome, and lead to trauma. I realised my issues and carefully traced them, practised anger management, positive self-talk, self-assessment, etc.
This lockdown also helped me to make more time for myself. I explored my artistic nature, culinary skills, reading books, etc. I did my menstruation-related workshop with the Youth Ki Awaaz action network, which also kept me busy.
After all, mental health is something we need to discuss more! Because the lack of proper care is leading to severe depression, in more and more people, from different age groups. This results in relationship issues, anxiety, and sometimes even substance abuse and suicidal attempts.
There are a lot of people out there who need attention. They have no idea about their mental health, and it’s time to trace the cause, and spread awareness, to help the people who are looking for us. Happy World Mental Health Day!