Mental Health Advocacy (Soan Zehni Syehat)
Mental Health Advocacy initiative encompasses activities like promoting awareness, sharing resources, fostering skills, and distributing relevant materials. As part of this effort, the Center collaborates with educational institutions such as schools and colleges, as well as orphanages; and hosts open forums, nature hikes, and workshops for the general public. The project's primary goal is to bridge the divide between mental health practitioners and the community by disseminating knowledge and fostering collaboration, thereby sparking discussions about mental health in the Kashmir region. Through this project, the Center seeks to highlight the unique circumstances of the local population and raise awareness about the community's mental health issues.
Working in a conflict-prone region, ICPP's approach takes into consideration the underlying factors affecting mental health, including historical, systemic, and political elements, as well as the interconnected aspects of caste, class, gender, and religion in our planning and intervention strategies.
The open forum structure of the Mental Health Advocacy project extends an invitation to the general public, encouraging them to participate in discussions concerning the mental health challenges faced by the community. Recognizing the limited availability of public spaces for open dialogue and the existing stigma associated with mental health, this initiative seeks to engage the community and foster intergenerational conversations.
The session was designed to understand people’s perceptions of mental health, and their concerns and dwell on culturally relevant methods of coping. The ICPP team was joined by 35 participants of diverse backgrounds; students, doctors, mental health professionals along with aspiring professionals. The participants engaged in group reflexive group activities which prompted them to contextualise mental health concerns in the conflict-prone region of Kashmir. The groups had active discussions regarding intersectionalities that inform the mental health condition of people in the region and reflected on ways in which we can address these concerns, especially among the youth. Further, the team highlighted the need for informed advocacy and ethical practices among the mental health community in Kashmir.
As an integral component of the Mental Health Advocacy Project, the International Center for Peace Psychology (ICPP) forms collaborative partnerships with educational institutions to organise workshops and seminars aimed at promoting awareness and catalyzing discussions related to mental health and informed advocacy. Notably, a workshop was conducted at Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School in Srinagar, which drew the participation of 200 8th-grade students. During this event, students actively engaged in experiential activities and dialogues centered around their mental health concerns.
Of particular significance, the workshop also addressed the prevalence of misinformation and malpractice often associated with popular psychology content accessible on the internet and various social media platforms. The students were encouraged to cultivate a discerning and well-informed perspective regarding matters of mental health and overall well-being.
As part of our ongoing collaborations with schools within the framework of the Mental Health Advocacy Project, the ICPP team collaborated with the Parents Association at Foundation World School to conduct a workshop on the critical topic of social media safeguarding and its impact on mental health. This workshop garnered the attendance of 25 participants, including parents, school staff, and the principal.
During the session, parents actively engaged in discussions pertaining to social media practices and took time for self-reflection on their own behaviors in relation to children, recognizing potential impacts on their development. The workshop specifically centered on comprehending the dynamics of the digital medium and addressing crucial aspects of a child's well-being within the online space. It was designed as an interactive session, allowing parents to voice concerns and pose questions, while also equipping them with skills to comprehend and initiate constructive dialogues with their children.
As part of the World Mental Health Day 2023 initiatives, the International Center for Peace Psychology (ICPP) organized a brief trek and public discussion at Koh-e-Sulaiman in the Srinagar district of Kashmir. The event attracted 22 participants, comprising 18 women and 6 men, representing a diverse range of ages between 17 and 45. Throughout the 6-kilometer hike, participants engaged in discussions about nature and its connection to mental health, guided by various reflective exercises led by the facilitator. In addition to the hike, the open forum provided a platform for individuals to share their personal stories and challenges related to mental health through artistic expressions such as singing, visual art, and spoken word performances.
The primary goal of this hike was to kickstart dialogues about mental health, particularly among the younger generation. Moreover, recognizing the limited public spaces available to women in outdoor activities, the event aimed to create an inclusive environment and encourage more women to participate in these outdoor adventures.
We focused on the Mental Health as basic human right - challenges, opportunities and ground stories through our different activities. These included storytelling initiative, hike and open forum, online workshop and Instagram Live session.
Taking this year's theme around Mental health as Basic human right, we engaged with experts and public online to explore further the challenges, opportunities, critical issues. We were joined by a clinical and a social psychologist for the session.