The probability that one in four people will suffer from some mental health problem in their lifetime draws attention to the need to integrate mental health concerns in to everyday lives and living.
Mental Health is a concern from a bio-psycho-social stand point on a global level.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 450 million people suffer from mental illnesses and more than half of them do not get access to treatment. Despite advancements in the health sector, technology and research, mental health continues to be a growing burden with an impact on human rights, social inclusion and economic consequences.
An initiative to design socially innovative tools to bridge the recognised gaps, ‘Advocacy For Mental Health: Create Leaders to Innovate and Break Stigma’ is an Indian-European collaborative project administered by Make Room.
The project is an outcome of the first edition of the Changemakers’ Room, an international Training Forum gathering some of the world’s aspiring grassroots leaders.
“Advocacy For Mental Health” has three interventions that are currently being developed across India and Europe, with a focus on Capacity Building, Collaboration and Awareness. The project is a beginning of an international cooperation between mental health practitioners and experts representing De Sousa Foundation (India), Association Alba (Spain), University of Thessaly (Greece) and Karsiyaka District National Education Directorate (Turkey).
The project is initiated by the Indian-European Social Change Ecosystem, Make Room and is expected to run until 2019.
“There are many issues and obstacles within the space of mental health, but our main focus was to find issues that largely concerned youth and were present in both regions – Europe and India”, says India project coordinator, Pragya Lodha.
The project consortium has prioritised the following issues within the sector of mental health:
1. Lack of strong leadership within the mental health sector
This leads to poor advocacy of mental health and forces youth suffering from mental illnesses not to take action, to remain benefit seekers instead of job/opportunity creators and makes them inactive members of society.
2. Lack of quality information available to masses
Lack of information/research exchange across borders, lack of cooperation between organisations of researchers/psychologists resulting in a lack of proper, innovative consultation and treatment techniques.
3. Prevalent societal stigma and cultural barriers associated with mental health
Such issues lead youth to avoid undergoing treatment when needed, give rise to a lack of self-confidence, independence and a will to be actively involved in society.
In response to the identified issues, the project experts and represented organisations are committed to developing the following interventions:
Intervention 1: Capacity Building Curriculum for Strong Leadership
Create an ICT-based curriculum using non-formal learning methodologies to build capacities of youth suffering from mental illnesses.
Intervention 2: Collaboration Model
To create an ICT platform to establish cooperation between organisations/individuals working in the mental health sector and foster exchange of practices and comprehensive content on mental health issues among youth.
Intervention 3: Gaming to Raise Awareness
To create an innovative, tangible tool to break the stigma and cultural barriers of mental health within the society. The gaming tool will showcase the much-needed information to reduce ignorance and stereotypes about mental health within the society.
“It is significant to develop interventions benefiting not only the official consortium of the project, but also for the sector at large. Indian-European Social Change Ecosystem is keen on supporting and creating interventions spearheaded by experts that can benefit maximum number of people, therefore all interventions are open educational resources encouraging multiplier effect.”, says Make Room Europe Managing Director, Miks Celmiņš.
In order to develop interventions ensuring local context, representing an Indian perspective Make Room in collaboration with the India project partner, De Sousa Foundation, is organising Mental Health Open Forums across the country. Open Forums are conducted to bring together mental health professionals, professors, students, social workers, researchers and enthusiastic individuals to gather information on mental health with a localised context to better understand the problems at the grassroots, exchange best practices and contribute in developing the interventions proposed.
The Open Forum is organised for individuals and organisations working in the sector of mental health notably within education, raising awareness and research/collaboration.
“We are determined to build interventions that matter by keeping local context at the center. The Forum that was held in Bengaluru presented us with new partnerships, deeper insights on the changing dynamics and fresh perspectives on the identified problems.”, says Pranav Hebbar, co-founder, Make Room India.
The first Mental Health Open Forum was successfully organised in Bengaluru on July 29. A group of 40 mental health professionals serving in various specialisations (counsellors, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers) representing Azim Premji University, De Sousa Foundation, Hank Nuun Institute, Make Room Europe, Make Room India, Medico Pastoral Association, NIMHANS, Solidarity Foundation, SBI Foundation, Swasti Health Resource Center, Tamahar Trust, The MINDS Foundation, The Reach Clinic, White Swan Foundation for Mental Health gathered to discuss problems and possible innovations in the sector of mental health.
Mental Health Open Forum is now scheduled in Mumbai on September 9, 2017, and Make Room calls out to Mumbai based practitioners of mental health, students, organisation representatives to take part and contribute in creating the proposed interventions. Read more!