“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” this is a quote from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This is a very insightful quote commenting on how human societies work. Though there is a theory that relates this quote to statistics, I have always thought it to convey that we as a society always prefer to present a happy front, it is possible because the societies impression of how one can be happy are considered to be applicable indiscriminately. While unhappiness is something to be abhorred so we are free to be unhappy in solitude with any reason we want as there is no expectation associated with that emotion.
The result of this behaviour added to a rapidly changing social and technological environment has not been without consequences. A study conducted by the World Health Organization in 2015 shows that one in five Indians may suffer from depression in their lifetime, equivalent to 200 million people. Due to the stigma associated with mental illness, a lack of awareness, and limited access to professional help, only 10-12% of these sufferers will seek help. This problem is much more severe in rural areas where people still assign the blame of unexplained mental illnesses to a displeased deity or haunting. Sahaj Trust was started by eight like minded individuals who felt it imperative that something must be done about this dire situation. They aim to work in Sindhdurg District in Kokan, Maharashtra. Meenakshi, one of the co-founders of this trust hails from the district.
She is a psychology student and is currently pursuing her Masters in this subject. For her, the journey started when her brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She experienced firsthand the hardships caused due to lack of facilities and skilled doctors in Kokan for this field. She has endured the reluctance of their parents to accept that anything was wrong and the complications this had caused. She herself has faced Depression. All these experiences have contributed to her desire to help those in similar situations and especially those who have no means to get this; much needed help. She believes that family members of the patients need as much support and guidance as the patients, if not more. Thus Sahaj Trust tries to ensure that people have a platform to contact, to ask queries, to ask for help regarding psychological issues. They conduct annual programs, essay writing competitions open for all, lectures on self-discipline in schools, sessions on sexuality education and child sexual abuse for school going children, where they are thought what is inappropriate touch and to speak out about it, if they are experiencing anything similar. The essays are generally on topics which relate to the emotions we never discuss or acknowledge as a way to express them to over selves first and foremost.
Sahaj trust in addition to this has tried to spread awareness regarding mental health through street plays and Poster Exhibitions which pave way to group discussions on the topics regarding mental health welfare. Their efforts have so far been based in Pune and Sindhdurg. They started their efforts around 2012 and the organization is still budding. The organization has yet to get any government funding. They have no website so far but they respond to emails and phone calls in twenty-four hours. Their mission is to create mobile counselling stations for the patients and the family.
I know, I had promised to come with a venture or venturist this month and this is clearly not a business venture but a venture nevertheless. Plus, I feel this is very important that, we as a society become aware of our behaviour and its results. Perhaps, if we shade some of our inhibitions and reach out to one another, we may bring about a positive change.
Meenakshi:+91 94208 80529
As this is December our journey comes to an end here. So what do you think? Have we found the factors that energise all these people and allow them to shift the orbit? Well the qualities that I found to be important were that most had focus, they had a goal and they put all their effort to fulfil it. They were focused and yet not rigid, when they saw that the current scenario demanded slight change of plans they obliged, they had the ability to see this demand and the foresight that the demand and overall technological scenario in their field were very important factors that were going to decide the direction of their journey. And most importantly they all took the plunge, well all the swimming lessons and all the gear is useless if you never jump in the water, aren’t they?
Thank you all for accompanying me on this journey. All the very best to you! I hope you have a very enriching new year, full of learning and growth!