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On The Other Side : Mental Health Inequity From The Therapist’s Lens

Apart from structural inequalities that hamper access to mental health services for the common masses, mental health professionals themselves are bound in a unique conundrum. The conversations around mental health as an imperative subject both for individual and communal well-being, are still fairly nascent in the country. As a result, India is still in its nascent stage of harboring and investing in infrastructure and the necessary means that aid in the proper training of mental health professionals and social workers. There is a paramount deficit in the amount of funding provided by the Government and furthermore, no set rules, laws or ethical and moral groundwork is being laid by the governing or affiliated bodies. As of now, there are only 47 government psychiatric institutions catering to the massive population of 1.3 billion, steadily building an insurmountable pressure on the already scanty number of psychiatric nurses, doctors, psychologists, staff, and mental health advocates.

Mental Health in an Unequal World

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In a country like ours where every 100 kms, language, culture, dialect and food changes, so do people, their problems, perspectives, opportunities, resources and access to these resources. India is a country of diversity when it comes to culture and traditions but also when it comes to the harrowing gap between the rich and the millions of poor and homeless people that are poverty stricken, and for whom healthcare is a luxury. Much like healthcare, mental wellbeing is a concept foreign to a large population of the country. A lot of factors like poverty and income inequality, religion and caste, cultural and traditional influences, civic and political systems, age and disability as well as gender and sexual orientation are responsible for such an exclusivity of mental health services. About 80% of all healthcare services are being provided by the private sector making mental health practically inaccessible to those who can’t afford it. There is also the pressing issue of specialization

Gender Identity and Trauma: An Inevitable Relationship

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“Cultures of domination attack self-esteem, replacing it with a notion that we derive our sense of being from one dominion over another. Patriarchal masculinity teaches men that their sense of self and identity, their reason for being, resides in their capacity to dominate others.” ― Bell Hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics Patriarchy can be loosely translated as a system that prefers men over women. Not just our country but most of the world at present operates under a patriarchal structure. Our homes, our schools, workplaces, social circles and the society at large are plagued by the effects of patriarchy. This system disincentives women and people who do not adhere to this gender binary. The presence of the same can be seen in our language, rewarded behaviour and distribution of resources. Most social structures attempt to be inclusive and work towards equality limited to the idea of the gender binary, completely missing out on the idea that gender is fluid. This

Transformative Justice: An Alternative to Criminal Justice System

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Transformative Justice is a process where all individuals affected by a crime are given a chance to heal and improve. It’s a political construct and approach for responding to violence, harm and abuse without creating more of it. It’s an alternative to the criminal justice system that is active in our country and most others.  Here is an example of its perspective. If a marginalised 10-year-old boy is involved in petty theft, the criminal justice system would only look at the criminal (the child), the crime (pickpocketing) and the victim (the person who was stolen from). Whereas the transformative justice system would also look at why the boy did it? Were he and his family suffering from extreme poverty? Does he have a history of discrimination done to him by the non-poor? Does weak enforcement of law and order in marginalised areas expose him to harmful peer groups? The criminal justice would only focus on what has happened but the latter would focus also on why something has happened

The Mutilation of Mental Health due to Caste Based Discrimination

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Despite moving years ahead and progressing in various spheres, India as a country hasn’t left many of its scars behind. Getting freedom from the Britishers is the most proud thing that allows us to hold our heads high but there are many enemies that we need to defeat to truly progress one of which is the caste, a structural system that socially defers people to gain access to the same opportunities due to lottery of birth.  Caste is entrenched in our social fabric so much so that when someone calls it out, it feels like an “attack”. However, instead of an attack, it is simply an opportunity to truly practice the principles of equity and equality and be better humans. Moreover, the denial of casteist practices is similar to gaslighting and speaking over someone else’s lived experiences. Denial of caste based discrimination can make people question their lived realities or believe if they’re “faking it”, none of which is true. A lived experience definitely holds more value than a random

Adverse Childhood Events (ACE): Concept & Long Term Effects

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Nobody can say their childhood was perfect. We can always point to some flaws in our upbringing, environment, or parenting style. This often connects and validates a problem in our adult life. It’s normal to be mad at our parents for not doing enough in certain areas. But, how do you know if your childhood was problematic or not? That’s where the concept of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) comes along. They are a category that covers all types of traumatic events on a physical, emotional, or mental level that one may go through during their childhood. And they are a bit more severe than normal sad moments in our childhood. As they tend to cause real physical, mental, and behavioral problems even in adulthood. Most of the time, the subject is not even aware that their present problems have their roots in ACEs. In a way, these experiences become lifelong liabilities.  One of the longest studies on ACEs is CDC-Kaiser ACE Study , which started in 1955 and is still active. It divides th

Assessments and Trauma in Pop Culture

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  For our final supervision session, we were taught how the children’s assessments are conducted to monitor their progress. They are conducted once at the beginning of the month and then at the end - designed to measure their levels of interaction, engagement, emotional expression and creativity.  All of our observations come into play while determining how much to score individual children. As we went into the details of each aspect of the assessment, we were also asked to think about some of these behaviours we might have noticed during our own sessions. For example, a boy in one of our groups barely interacts with us but engages in the given activity. We would then score him high on engagement but low on interaction. Some of the kids seek constant attention, some do not interact at all. We would have to make not of all of this, the consistency of this behaviour and as well as the contexts. This also made us realise just how much effort it takes to observe and note down the behaviour