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The Mindful Advocate(s)

ShampaMental Illness

In this compelling exploration of mental health, Shampa, a passionate disability activist and someone living with psycho-social disabilities, becomes the voice that delves into the societal stigma that often shrouds mental health and emphasizes the importance of seeking help. As the narrative progresses, Shampa sheds light on the legal frameworks in place that safeguard the rights and dignity of individuals facing mental health challenges. Transitioning seamlessly, the film also introduces Suchetana, her daughter, dedicated to manning a crisis helpline. She talks of those who reach out—individuals navigating through personal traumas, seeking support in times of crisis, or simply needing a compassionate ear. Together, Shampa and Suchetana champion the cause of mental health awareness, fostering a society that embraces the complexities of the human mind with compassion and understanding.

Transcript

Mental illness can happen to anyone, just like we feel sick physically, maybe having fever, or having some kidney ailment, liver problems, mental illness can happen to anyone of us, at any point of time. 

Unfortunately, in our society, we feel it’s a stigmatized issue and it should be hidden. So, family members do not seek help when a person is mentally sick. 

And there can be different kinds of mental illness, there can be depression, there can be bipolar disorder, or any other, there are many kinds of illnesses, which needs intervention, it needs treatment. 

It can be therapy, it can be counselling, it can be medicine but it’s up to the person who is feeling sick to take a decision of how- what kind of treatment he needs. 

 

My name is Shampa Sengupta and I am a disability activist and a person with psycho-social disability so I am coming here to talk about mental illness. 

It is very difficult to know the exact statistics of how many people suffer from mental illness because there is, a lot of people want to hide it, we don’t talk about it.

 We do not have proper statistics but of course, post-covid, we know the number increased a lot and even WHO said that mental illness is a shadow pandemic in post-covid period. 

So, we need a large number of mental health professionals right now in our country and actually, throughout the world. 

In our country, we have two new laws. Number 1, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act which was enacted in 2016 and it acknowledges that persons with psycho-social disabilities need support.

 It also talks about reservation for person with mental illness in jobs and college admission. 

We also have Mental Healthcare Act which was passed in the parliament in 2017. 

It talks about rights of every person to get free and fair treatment. 

It also says that suicide is not a crime. 

So, this is something very important for our country to think that being mentally ill or someone who is self-harming is not a criminal. 

 

My name is Suchetana and I am here to talk about making mental health support accessible to all those in need through our 24/7 crisis helpline. 

Crisis helpline can help in three major ways: we find people reaching out to us in the aftermath of a trauma crisis or a disaster.

 A trauma or a crisis can be of any kind. 

It can be a breakup, it can be the loss of a loved one, it can be a loss of a job or a fight with a loved one and there are many other examples of a crisis. 

People can also reach out weeks after a devastating event has happened in their lives because often people find that they haven’t really processed the trauma and they do not seek the mental health support right after it, but weeks later they feel the need, so that is when they reach out and we try to help them through the process. 

The third major way we can help is by educating people on psychological processes, what they are going through and what kind of help is available and what kind of support they might require. 

We get calls from people across ages, across professions and across economic strata. 

For example- we get calls from homemakers, from students, people working in the corporate sector, in the armed forces, at times, we’ve gotten calls from the police when they believe that they have found somebody who needs our help and are in a crisis and of course, it is a completely non-judgemental space and we maintain complete confidentiality so anything that they share to us by the clients, we never disclose it to anybody.

 I would also like to share a personal experience I had on the helpline.

 Few days ago, a man reached out to us over WhatsApp.

 He was having very strong suicidal thoughts, suicidal urges and I chatted with him for over an hour and by the end of the conversation, when I asked him, “How are you feeling right now?” and he said that he did not want to die at that moment.  

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