Mental health and its intersection with marginalized communities
With the aim of mainstreaming discussions on mental health and its connections to other pressing socio-economic and environmental challenges, Mariwala Health Initiative organized a high-level workshop today.
The workshop emphasized the need to switch from a limited, biomedical approach to mental health to one that is more inclusive and holistic. It also highlighted the need for a rights-based, psychosocial approach.
The importance of community-based approaches to mental health problems and the demand for an intersectional strategy to mental health in the workplace were both further discussed by the speakers.
Numerous academics, activists, and healthcare professionals were present during the event. Raj Mariwala, Director, Priti Sridhar, CEO, and Anam Mittra, Lead of New Initiatives, were present from the Mariwala Health Initiative. Dr. Achal Bhagat, a psychiatrist from Apollo Hospital, and Priscilla Giri, a researcher from DLR Prerna, a Darjeeling-based NGO that works on a variety of community activities, also spoke at the event.
Raj Mariwala, Director, Mariwala Health Initiative, spoke on the need to redefine the approach to mental health by saying, “Mental health is a development issue and must not be treated in isolation from the current socio-economic and environmental backdrop. Discussions on mental health need to shift away from primarily using a biological approach and instead centre on psychosocial reality. Community-led and implemented interventions for mental health are necessary.
Priti Sridhar, CEO of Mariwala Health Initiative, emphasised the need for media discussion on intersections of mental health and said, “There is a need to step back and stop looking at mental health as an individual issue. From our unique social positions, we each view society. It takes more than just increasing access to services to address social injustice and prejudice in the area of mental health. It is crucial that the media convey this knowledge when covering stories about concerns, not just those directly related to mental health, but also those that highlight problems with the health care system, the lack of affordable housing, labour regulations, and climate change.
When discussing how the media shapes the conversation about mental health, Dr. Bhagat, a psychiatrist at Apollo Hospital, remarked, “What one does not say about mental health is as significant as what one does say. Avoid having conversations that reinforce common misconceptions about mental health. These include the connections between mental illness and disability and the links between mental illness and violent behaviour. What has to be addressed: the fact that mental health issues are widespread and that getting treatment is acceptable; the dearth of funding for mental health services; and the inadequate quantity and training of specialists. Keeping treatment expectations realistic. There are no miracle treatments, but there is assistance.