International News

Brexit referendum: UK voted to leave EU, confirms Electoral Commission

UKIP's Nigel Farage has called June 23 the region's 'Independence Day' and Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation.

The United Kingdom Electoral Commission on Friday morning confirmed that Britain has voted to leave the European Union. After Britain voted on Thursday to decide whether it would stay with or leave the European Union, initial trends showed a slight advantage for the 'Remain' camp, however, pollsters quickly did a volte face. The divisive ballot on the United Kingdom’s staying with or leaving the European Union was won by the ‘Leave’ camp, with 51.9% votes. The voter turnout for the election was higher than expected. Around 72% of voters turned up at the polls on Thursday.

The pound sterling on Thursday had climbed to a 2016 high as markets closed, and stocks rallied because investors bet that the United Kingdom will remain with the EU, Reuters reported. On Friday morning, Britain's currency dropped to its lowest since 1985. With markets placed the odds of Brexit happening as high as 74%, global markets took a beating on Friday morning, including in India.

Counting began on Thursday at 382 local counting areas that represent all 380 local government areas in England, Scotland and Wales, including one each for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. Scotland and Northern Ireland appear to have opted to remain with the EU.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage called June 23 UK's "Independence day" and demanded Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation. Cameron announced his resignation shortly after the the results were declared.

The vote, which was to determine whether the UK remained a part of the EU or not, has been a polarising affair with early predictions showing that the ‘Remain’ camp was only just slightly ahead of the ‘Leave’ supporters. The EU is a strategic economic and political coalition that brings together 28 countries, allowing them to trade on common terms, and make some key political decisions collectively. The UK has always maintained a unique position in the EU, refusing to participate in some of the collective moves, such as using the Euro currency.

British Prime Minister David Cameron campaigned loudly in support of Britain remaining with the EU, and tried to create a new deal with the Union on special terms for the country to remain. Among them are provisions that involve Britain not having to participate in future EU bailouts, and continuing to use its Pound as currency. While the EU on the whole earlier wanted Britain to stay, such moves could set a dangerous precedent as other countries could make similar demands in the future.

On the other hand, supporters of the 'Leave' proposition argued that it would be an economically fruitful move as the country would not be forced to contribute to the EU’s schemes, though not everyone agreed that the facts aligned on this.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.