Mumbai: This Community Outreach Program promotes Mental Health Care

Considering Mumbai’s fast-paced lifestyle, the Community Outreach Program (CORP) for Mental Health was introduced in 2019 by a non-funded Astitva Clinic in Matunga.

Mumbai: This Community Outreach Program promotes Mental Health Care

Pre-existing mental health challenges have been exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. However, obtaining treatment for behavioural health issues remain much too difficult.

Considering Mumbai’s fast-paced lifestyle, the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP), funded by the Centre, is likely to commence in the city soon. The programme is already running in 34 districts of Maharashtra

Meanwhile, in 2019, a Mumbai-based non-funded Astitva Clinic introduced the Community Outreach Program (CORP) for Mental Health in Matunga.

Recently, between December 1-11, the volunteers carried out different activities to engage with every possible person on the street from vendors, cobblers, ticket conductors, auto-rickshaw drivers to children and elderly in order to spread awareness.

In an exclusive conversation with Mumbai Live, Vishakha Punjani, the founder of Astitva Clinic, shares about the importance of collectivistic community mental health.

What propelled you to start this initiative, CORP?

During my growing up years, especially as a student, I heard, saw and even participated in many drives. People would donate/bid/march, etc. but how was it directly helping or making a difference? Hence, to have a direct correlation, I decided to go out into the community and not only spread awareness but also give them guide tips as to how they can move forward from being only a bystander.

Most times, I have personally seen people wanting to help in mental health crisis but are afraid how to do so – because, they don’t know.

If a person reports to the informant of mentally feeling fatigued/difficulty concentrating, they are asked to stay quiet and give it sometime. Time heals all wounds? Why, the same treatment for physical and mental fatigue not applicable.

What is the motive behind it?

To psycho-educate our community and throw light on the importance of mental health. We purposely chose busy/active streets, to build interaction through the activities to see a direct pre-post comparison. However, if it is in a naturalistic setting, which was the case throughout, it gives more effect.

Our motto was to bust myths, give guide tips, tricks, remedies. It’s to push all the people towards supporting one another, even when it’s about mental health.

How do you plan to make people more aware on vocally speaking about mental health?

If it was only awareness, it could have gotten a tad bit boring, but this was an initiative made to be interactive which was encouraging and seeking insight – once the activities concluded, they would have a plethora of questions to ask, and bingo! There itself the impact was created.

Many think they might be judged, devalued, not inclusive, etc., but we were successful in changing that. It takes a lot to combat, to allow yourself to feel all it feels.

What locations in the city are you planning to widen this drive to?

We have extended our reach out areas from few streets in and around of Matunga in the first year to few other areas like Marine Drive Promenade, Bandra Carter Road Promenade, Dadar Parsee Colony, Dadar, Shivaji Park, Five Gardens, etc. in the second year. We aim to continue with this each year but for now, it’s not decided or chalked out on paper. We’re looking at Thane, Borivali, Kandivali, Mira Road, and gradually the whole of Mumbai.

Also, we intend to extend our volunteers support from varied states of India and thereby stretching our hands inter-state too, having a circuit PAN India.

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