From the 8th - 10th October,
Municipal Park, Jawahar Nagar is the setting of a mental health camp, an art
and poetry exhibition, live theatre based on MSF's successful radio programme
"Alaw Baya Alaw" and screening of MSF videos in Kashmiri and English.
Pupils from schools in Kupwara and Srinagar as well
as students from the University of Kashmir entered an art and poetry contest on
the theme of "dealing with challenges on one's life". Their work is being
showcased throughout Mental Health Week, with an award ceremony taking place in
Srinagar on 10th of October.
Mental health is an integral component of basic
healthcare services MSF has been providing to people in Kashmir since 2002.
There is a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of an integrated healthcare
approach combining both mental and physical care. Integrating mental health
services into basic healthcare is also one of the most pragmatic ways to make
mental health services accessible to those who need it most. The multi-faceted
mental health-related stigma and discrimination impedes access to existing
mental health services for people in need.
"What we have been witnessing with our presence in
Kashmir for the past seven years is that mental health needs to be an integral
component of the overall health system and therefore access should be
guaranteed to such a service. That is why we offer such integrated
health-related services in Kupwara, northern Kashmir, where mental healthcare
is part of the basic healthcare programmes" says MSF's project coordinator
"More and more people are realizing the need of
mental health in order to go through a difficult and stressful period of their
lives. We often suggest coping mechanisms to our clients in our counseling
sessions such as spending time with their family and friends in order to
overcome such situations. The stigma that is attached to the word "mental
health" - where someone is considered crazy - is still present but slowly
reducing. We welcomed the introduction of the National Mental Health Programme
(NMHP) last year in Kashmir, where we saw it as a first step towards the
breaking of such stigma. Unfortunately, the NMHP does not include a counseling
component like ours, but we hope that in the near future counseling will be
introduced so that this stigma will be completely eroded and the people will
benefit of a total mental well being. This is why there is no health without
mental health" added Matthews.
Contributed by: Bobby Ramakant