This year like every year we observed the
International Youth Day on the 12th of August, a date in the year
allocated to the youth across the glove. This brilliant initiative was first incepted
in the year 2000 by United Nations in an attempt to offer a platform to
government and other agencies to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. Each
year this day is celebrated in the light of a new theme, exclusive to that
particular year. This year United Nations took up a theme which was very dear
to Manas foundation, the theme being ‘Mental Health Matters’.
Since youth mental health is of primary
concern to us, we did our bit at the forum offered to us by United Nations by
participating in the two- day long celebration of International Youth Day this
year. The first day which preceded the International Youth Day saw a zestful
football match which was attended by the Manas team who relentlessly cheered
the young players who played admirably well and won the match. Such a well
thought of initiative was taken to spread awareness about Youth and Mental
The second day which was the International
Youth Day saw the unravelling of many events.
The day started with an insightful joint statement building activity
wherein the young gathering of 300 school children and some college persons
were asked to collectively come up with statements on “Youth and Mental
Health”. This saw the active participation of each young member, and a glimpse
of their discussion revealed how insightful they were. Some of the remarkable
statements that we heard were:
“ We need to unite the nation to reduce the
stigma by employing empathy and engagement”
“why choose the comfort of societal opinion
over the discomfort of consciousness”
mental health stereotypes through individual actions”
Such perceptive statements generated
collectively by a gathering of 300 youth made us very hopeful of the scope of
mental health in our nation.
This was followed by an enjoyable quiz round
wherein the youth were quizzed about mental health in terms of the number of
psychiatrists we have presently to how the percentage of people who are
stigmatized because of having some mental problem etc. And to our pleasant
surprise the young representatives of India were quite awareness of the
prevailing mental health scenario and were right 8 out of 10 times.
Other than the statement building exercise
and quiz which saw active membership of each young member present in the
auditorium, we also the depiction of mental health scenario in India via a
street play on “Youth and Mental Health Issues”. The depiction was beautiful
and compelled one to think about those suffering from some mental problems in
our nation, especially among the youth themselves.
This brought the celebrations to a halt for lunch
break where we were treated with delicious delicacies of our country. The
second half of the day opened with a
speech offered by Dr.Monica Kumar, the Founding trustee of Manas foundation who
engaged the youth in perspective building on Youth and Mental Health through
her revelations about the mental health scenario in India.
She zealously talked about the need to
realize how mental health services are incorrectly thought to imply the
presence of some form of ailment, some kind of deficiency which renders a
person weak and thus the act of seeking help as an admission of being weak and
something shameful. She also pointed out how mental health is erroneously
thought to be synonymous with mental illness, when the truth is the former is a
necessity for everyone while the latter is an unfortunate consequence resulting
from not having achieved the former. She also talked about the special
predicament the youth presents who shirk away from seeking help when needed,
due to a fear of social exclusion. The other issues brought in the limelight by
Monica Ma’am in her speech were:
The need for creating school programs to eradicate the problem of
bullying which serves as a precursor to mental health issues and using the same
programs to psycho educate the youth about mental health. Employing more youth
workers in schools should also be considered
Making the most of other forums to create awareness and offer help. This
could be achieved by attempting to correct the portrayal of mental health in
media which is highly influential and one also through the use of internet
which has a global reach and is quick.
She also spoke of a dire need for an increase in the mental health
services available which should be made available at a reasonable cost so it is
affordable. Also information about
mental health services should be readily available.
need for Indian tests based on Indian norms which tap on the diversity of our
nation was also spoken of.
A need to imbibe a sense of shared responsibility among the various
stakeholders like family, friends, mental health professionals and community at
Lastly she highlighted the need to understand mental health services as
a process which cant be thought of as a one step crises intervention. It is an
ongoing process whose course cant be decided before hand and nor can it be
reduced to a one time venture.
The speech was very well received by the
audience and the esteemed guests who graced the event, namely- Mr Rajeev Gupta
–Secretary, Youth Affairs, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship,
Youth Affairs and Sports, Ms Lise
Grande- UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative and Mr. Sarbananda
Sonowal- Honorable Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreurship,
Youth Affairs and Sports.
The audience erupted into a loud applause
when Monica ma’am spoke about the need to replace mental health services, with
a Primary health care system.
In the second half of the day, another
powerful medium was chosen to raise concern about mental health, the screening
of two movies. One movie showcased the work of UNVs working with children with
disabilities in Manipur. The other
talked about depression. The eventful day was drawn to a close with a Panel
discussion on Youth and Mental Health in India which was led by the likes of
esteemed panelists like Dr Vikram Patel- Professor of International Mental
Health and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science, Dr
Jitender Nagpal- Sr.Consultant Psychiatrist & Incharge Institute of Child
Development & Adolescent Wellbeing Moolchand Medcity, Ms Mamta
Vaish-Representative of Sanjivini and Dr Rajesh Sagar-Associate Professor,
With this the International Youth Day came to
an end, having stirred a need to think about mental health among the young
minds of the nation , instilling in them the responsibility to take the nation
forward towards a stigma free and more accepting society.