quick reads

The big news: BJP calls Rahul Gandhi ‘devotee of Babar, relative of Khilji’ and 9 other top stories

Other headlines: An Ola driver allegedly trapped and harassed a woman, and the Delhi government said it would implement the odd-even scheme without exceptions.

A look at the headlines right now:

  1. Rahul Gandhi is a devotee of Babar and relative of Khilji, says Bharatiya Janata Party: The statement was in response to senior advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal asking the the SC to defer hearing in the Babri Masjid–Ram Janmabhoomi case.   
  2. Ola cab driver in Bengaluru allegedly traps woman in car by activating child lock, harasses her: The company said it had suspended the driver and promised to extend its support to the investigation against him. 
  3. ‘Odd-even scheme will be implemented without exemptions’, Delhi tells National Green Tribunal: The Aam Aadmi Party government said it will ban construction in the city if the air quality worsened.   
  4. Reserve Bank of India keeps interest rates unchanged after policy meet: The central bank said that the decision was taken to control retail inflation.   
  5. London’s mayor asks British government to issue a formal apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre: Khan called the incident one of the most horrific events in Indian history.   
  6. Time Person of the Year 2017 are ‘The Silence Breakers’ who spoke out against sexual assault: The honour recognises the ongoing #MeToo movement which initiated a global conversation around sexual harassment.   
  7. Over Rs 45 lakh in fake Rs 2,000 notes were seized between November 11 and December 31, shows data: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had cited counterfeit currency as a major reason for his government’s decision to scrap Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.   
  8. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan says Cyclone Ockhi alert was issued only on November 30, not earlier: The India Meteorological Department and the state have been arguing over when the weather advisory had actually been issued.   
  9. India abstains from voting on UN resolution condemning violence against Rohingya in Myanmar: Thirty-three countries voted in favour of the motion, while nine abstained and three voted against it.   
  10. ‘Behave properly, don’t leave husband without our permission’, Supreme Court tells woman: The top court also directed her to ‘look after’ her husband and his mother while hearing an appeal in a divorce case. 
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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.


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.