quick reads

The big news: Over 200 killed in terror attack at a mosque in Egypt, and nine other top stories

Other headlines: Standard & Poor’s kept India’s credit rating unchanged, and the US asked Pakistan to rearrest Hafiz Saeed after his release from detention.

A look at the headlines right now:

  1. At least 235 killed, 125 injured after militants detonate bomb, open fire in Egypt’s North Sinai mosque: The attack took place during Friday prayers at the Al Rawdah Mosque near El-Arish.
  2. Standard & Poor’s keeps India’s credit rating at a low BBB- with a ‘stable’ outlook, praises reforms: A BBB- rating is just a grade above junk status and has remained unchanged for India for a decade. 
  3. US asks Pakistan to rearrest Hafiz Saeed hours after his release from detention: The Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief, who was on house arrest since January, was allowed to leave earlier on Friday.  
  4. Brother of man found hanging at Jaipur fort claims it was murder, had nothing to do with Padmavati: The Jaipur Police also reportedly said Chetan Saini’s death had not connection with the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film.  
  5. All buses and cabs plying at Delhi airport must run on CNG in six months, rules National Green Tribunal: The court asked the Civil Aviation Ministry to ensure the use of green-wall technology to reduce noise pollution.  
  6. Crop damage in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka sends tomato prices soaring countrywide: In New Delhi, it was available at Rs 80 per kg, as compared to Rs 30 to Rs 35 per kg last year.  
  7. Delhi Metro lost 3 lakh daily commuters in October after fares were hiked: While an average 27.4 lakh passengers used metro trains every day in September, the number fell to 24.2 lakh in October. 
  8. Six RSS workers sentenced to life in prison for killing CPI(M) leader in Kerala in 2002: The convicts had barged into an automobile showroom and hacked Thazheyil Ashraf to death, the prosecution told the Thalassery district court.
  9. Three arrested in Kerala after group attacks nurse, health officials conducting a vaccination drive: The police said an anti-vaccination lobby has been sending messages on social media to convince residents of the area to not take part in the initiative.  
  10. Parents allege that children at Beijing kindergarten were sexually abused: A few teachers at the RYB Education New World kindergarten have been suspended, and an investigation is on.  
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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.