Tuesday, October 10 was "World Mental Health Day." A day to spread awareness of mental illnesses and inform people about how important mental health is.
For a long time, mental illnesses were not taken seriously or even mocked. Over the past few decades, lots of new information has been gathered, studies have been conducted and new knowledge has been published around the world. Today, mental well-being has reached a high level of importance in many countries.
In Germany, children now talk about mental health in school, seeing a psychologist has become normal and mental illnesses are considered as a serious problem. Here in India, my experience has been quite different. Mental health is here more of a taboo topic and a matter people don't talk about in public. The majority of people in India who suffer from mental illnesses and are affected by poverty are homeless and do not have the opportunity to receive treatment. The lack of knowledge contributes to the fact that many people have great prejudices against those who suffer, which does not make the problematic situation any easier.
Lili and I wanted the girls at The Hope House to learn more about mental illnesses to help fight the lack of knowledge, so we started a little project. The children were asked to form groups and each group should do some research about one mental illness. We chose 4 different mental illnesses: Depression, Panic Attacks, Eating Disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (POCD). Afterwards, everyone presented their research to the other groups and everyone was able to ask questions.
The aim of this project was to encourage them to talk about mental health, share their personal experiences and learn more about it together. The situation in India regarding mental illnesses should be improved and with this small project, at least 14 more young girls now know more about this topic.
We hope that there will be significant changes in the future and that mental health will no longer be a taboo topic in India.