A rainbow of positivity hovered around Goa as World Mental Health Day was celebrated on Tuesday as through the day it became increasingly obvious that the State was coming to terms on the way forward.
Mental health, until recently was a taboo in Goa but students of psychology from five colleges in Goa – St Xavier's, Carmel College, MES, Rosary and Chowgule – the staff of South Goa District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) and others associated in different forms of medicine, displayed in unison that mental health is not a song – to be switched on and off – but a platform where the best results can be achieved when both hands are used to clap.
“This is an unequal world when it comes to mental health. The new generation is facing mental health problems and yet there is no help. We are spurned when we raise our concerns when we should actually be helped,” said Sania Rego a TYBA psychology student from Carmel College after the performance during the World Mental Health Day Programme at South Goa District Hospital, Margao.
Sania and her colleagues from Carmel College put up a dance performance that told the tale of societal neglect towards mental health and their perceived way forward. Simultaneously they attempted to break stigmas associated with mental health.
“We should be open to people with mental health problems. People don’t try to understand the reason why someone is feeling unwell. They don’t see it as a disorder, they look at it in terms of craziness,” believes Sania, who one day intends to work in breaking such misconceptions.
As patients walked into the OPD of the hospital, most stopped, watched and returned to take a seat to witness the youngsters show that there is a way out for mental health provided one is ready to accept it.
“We have come all the way from Mapusa because we want to try and spread the message of the progress made in mental health, the facilities available in Goa and that we should not shy from coming forward,” said 18-year-old Yash, who along with thirty other colleagues from St Xavier's College, Mapusa took a bus to Margao.
World Mental Health Day celebration, conceptualised by DMHP under the leadership of Dr Shilpa Pandya, was different because there was no red tape, there was no differentiation and most importantly no distinction.
“Mental health cannot be defined or treated by one faculty of medicine. It needs an integrative approach where all fields combine to give their best and surely something will work out,” observed Dr Shilpa whilst explaining why ayurveda, yoga, psychology, palliative care and a host of other branches were integrated to showcase their role in helping alleviate the woes of mental health.
“Today, there is hope for everyone. Maybe, there is no cure but even in those circumstances we can make life better by just caring or extending that extra touch. Goodness does not cost,” is the thinking of Barbara D’Silva and Roma Prabhudessai from the NGO Novi Survat Goa.
Barbara D’Silva, Secretary at NGO Novi Survat Goa
“People in the worst state feel better when they are cared for and that is why we are here to celebrate that we can bring smiles when cure is not possible and that is the best medicine,” shares Barbara who is secretary of the organisation.
As they sang, danced and tried to spread the message of hope and care 74-year-old Francisco tapped his feet and casually nudged his wife saying, “These children have so much hope to offer.”
Indeed, as the morning session of the celebration ended, many patients leaving the OPD walked away with the hope that all was not lost for the mentally ill in Goa and that there was a rainbow of hope for mental health in Goa – lines left behind by Dr Shilpa Pandya, Dr Arpita Sirsikar, Alvia, Lila Moraes, Hemangi and Rama.
And, “There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t,” the message of John Green reverberated during the drive home.