On Saturday, October 15, Bhor Foundation was launched at The Outsiders event, an evening of passionate and engaging panel discussion revolving around mental illness, inclusion and possible reforms in India, poetry and songs to New Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village. Held at Cercles, a collaborative work space owned by Kanika Vohra, and supported by Poetry Couture and The Zine, the evening was also a celebration of Mad Pride as it was World Mental Health Day last week on October 10.
Panel Discussion :
Ruchika Bahl, UN Women, argued passionately that the time has come to have all the stakeholders concerned in India to come on a common platform so that they can pursue common goals together. She remarked that she had helped to set up something towards these goals, several years ago, called NAAJMI, but lamented that not enough is being done in a collaborative manner. Satvik Verma, Delhi based lawyer, spoke persuasively of how the current Mental Health Act works for and against some of his clients and their caregivers. It’s loopholes are many and the same was echoed by Seema Baquer, a researcher and trainer in the disability and women’s rights space, who had studied the Mental Health Act and the recent Mental Healthcare Bill that was passed by the Rajya Sabha in August 2016. She said that the reforms being sought by activists had largely been ignored and that old terms had simply been sugarcoated. For example involuntary admission, long sought to be abolished, is still possible under the term “admission under special conditions”. Psychiatrist Amit Sen spoke passionately how anger and aggression can be alright in some situations, but not others; and also spoke how if a lawyer was aggressive, for example, that is okay, but if a housewife was aggressive, she may risk being labeled. He spoke of how important it is to realise that so called mental illness is often just a reaction to the stresses of day to day living and called for more compassion on the part of caregivers.
Poetry and Song:
From Maya Angelou’s I Rise to original poems by Madhu, Jhilmil, Indu.. a song by Faiz, Bol…the evening ended on the right note of passion, politics and commitment towards change.
Dr Indu Prakash Singh, ActionAid, and a passionate activist in the field of homelessness in urban spaces, Mr Shammi Manik, Business Head, New Saraswati House, Vritti Bansal, Founder, Binge, NC Saxena, Former Secretary, Planning Commission, and eminent academic, and many more.
One of our first two projects is an anthology of stories, poems and art around mental health. Our second project is taking poetry and art into prisons and asylums.
Bhor Launch was successful because a lot of issues and reasons behind mental illness being treated as a taboo was raised. And we know before coming to solutions, problems should be adhered. Bhor believes in the power of art and poetry to self-heal.