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Pavas Gupta

IWB Intern

Jasdeep Mago Of Invisible Illness Makes Us See Parental Attention As The Key To Teen Mental Issues

  • IWB Post
  •  January 22, 2019

‘Take a minute, change a life!’ That was the theme of World Suicide Prevention Day, 2017, which falls on the 10th of September.

Let me take a minute to discuss some statistics, just to put things into perspective: In India, a person attempts to die every 3 seconds. 15 people commit suicide every hour. About 1 lakh people die by suicide every year. Suicide is one of the top three causes of death among the young in the age group of 15-35 years. Each suicide leaves at least 6 people devastated.

If you think that’s scary, let me show you another tiny clip:

All around the world, around 800,000 people die due to suicide every year. That is 1 person every 40 seconds if you do the math.

Pause. Take a minute. Let that sink in.

While something as utterly devastating as suicide cannot be reduced to a few numbers, and while people are more than statistics, these numbers reveal something ridiculously significant. To better understand suicide, and more broadly, mental illness, we contacted Jasdeep Mago and Jay Punjabi from Invisible Illness.

A huge huge huge thank you from team Invisibillness to all those who came for our event and helped give this issue it’s due importance! . Thank you to @sumeetnagdevdancearts for putting up a breathtaking performance! . Thank you to all our Poets @azbeing @thegirlbehindthoseglasses @suchitaranglani @simarsinghtrolled @ishmeetnagpal Giving us your beautiful words! . Thank you @instaraghu for sharing your thoughts and experiences. . Thank you all the panelists @mojorojo @shveshve Dr. Harish Shetty Dr. Anureet Sethi for giving us such great insights and @craziebawa for moderating the entire discussion. . Thank you to Bryan Ernest for giving great music! . Thank you Vishal Rasquinha for hosting the event with such ease and grace. . Thank you @shivfit111 for showing us a way everyday work on our mind. . Thank you to AASRA organisation for being as a support throughout. . Thank you to the sound and lights team for making sure everything went well. . Thank you to the production team for making sure the event looked absolutely on point @buddha_events you did a great job. . Thank you @marketcitykurla For proving us with a great venue to host our campaign. . Thank you @gifting_joy for making sure we had beautiful invites and all the backend help with we are really grateful! . Thank you @threeentertainment for helping us organise the event. . Thank you @socialnomaddesigns for fulfilling our design and social media needs. Thank you @avanillabean for the wonderful hampers and yummy treats. . Thank you @mintandmilkpr for being such a great PR team and a beautiful support system. Thank you to all the people who came in specially to support us we are so grateful and hope you took back something from our initiative that will help you in the future to deal with your own or someone else’s state of mind. #nowyouseeit

188 Likes, 4 Comments – Invisible Illness #NowYouSeeIt (@invisibleillnessind) on Instagram: “A huge huge huge thank you from team Invisibillness to all those who came for our event and helped…”

On the 10th of September, you held an event in Mumbai for World Suicide Prevention Day. What was the aim of the event?

Jasdeep: The aim of the event was to portray mental health through the medium of art. A dance performance by Sumeet Nagdev Dance Arts took the audience on a journey through the storm of emotions brewing inside a person and how they overcome the wave that comes with it.

These beautiful dancers showed us the visibility of these serious invisible illnesses. Thank you @sumeetnagdevdancearts for this breathtaking performance of the emotiinal struggle of a simple girl and for helping us simplify the concept of mental health. . . . #invisibleillness #nowyouseeit #mentalhealththroughart #dance #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #SuicidePrevention #stopsuicides

78 Likes, 2 Comments – Invisible Illness #NowYouSeeIt (@invisibleillnessind) on Instagram: “These beautiful dancers showed us the visibility of these serious invisible illnesses. Thank you…”

There was also a presentation by Aasra – the suicide prevention helpline. A live demonstration was conducted by Shivoham, who runs Shivfit (affiliated with Crossfit India), which was basically a mind-enhancing programme that focused on the power of the Sun, breathing techniques, etc. to deal with stress, anxiety, and the like. The entire audience took part in this demonstration, which was quite a sight. Next, we had a spoken-word performance revolving around what to say and what not to say to a mentally-ill person. Another highlight was when Raghu Ram from MTV shared his own experiences with mental health, and in doing so, pledged to start therapy. All of this encouraged the audience members to take the stage and share their stories – one of them was a doctor who offered his services pro bono to the audience members if they ever needed them. We ended the session with a panel discussion with panelists Rohan Joshi, Dr. Harish Shetty, and Dr.AnureetSethi. They discussed mental illness and suicide prevention.

More glimpses from World Suicide Prevention Day. . . . #mentalhealth #invisibleillness #nowyouseeit #mentalhealthawareness #SuicidePrevention #stopstigma #stopsuicides

63 Likes, 1 Comments – Invisible Illness #NowYouSeeIt (@invisibleillnessind) on Instagram: “More glimpses from World Suicide Prevention Day. . . . #mentalhealth #invisibleillness #nowyouseeit…”

 

Please list 5 tell-tale signs of suicide for me, so that our readers know what to look for.

Jasdeep: 90% of the time, suicide cases can be linked to mental illness. Some tell-tale signs are increased indulgence in risk-taking and becoming more secluded or closed off from others. Most of the time, a suicidal person will express that they are suicidal. You should also look at the environment around the person and their social circle, the people they interact with. Sometimes, there are biological reasons behind suicide – it is hereditary in certain people. So, if there is a history of mental illness in their family, chances are they are also suffering from mental illness.

What moved you to start Invisible Illness?

Jay: Around 2 months ago, I received news of the demise of one of my close friends. What was even more shocking was that he had committed suicide! Nobody really knew, but he had been going through depression for a while. Everyone who knew him was taken aback because we had always pictured him as a fun-loving guy. Now that I think of it, he had tried to reach out and seek help, but everyone was ignorant about mental illness.

In a society where even uttering the word depression is considered blasphemy, what can someone who wants to come out about their mental illness do?

Jasdeep: The biggest problem is that people are ignorant, they don’t understand that an illness like depression isn’t just a phase. I think if we want to dispel the stigma surrounding mental health, we need to come out and talk about it in the open. That was one of our objectives behind hosting the event on World Suicide Prevention Day. Such events give people a platform on which they can share their stories and experiences like Raghu did. There are people who want to give support, but unless and until a conversation is started, the mental health movement is going to remain stagnant. This was the idea behind the panel discussion that we held – the audience could ask questions, understand mental health issues, and become more aware. We need to tell people that it’s okay to talk about mental health, that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We should have the courage to talk about it on social media, as a first step. Ask yourself – if not me, then who? If not now, then when? Education and conversation need to be focused on inclusivity and positivity that people aren’t judged.

What are the steps to de-stigmatize mental illness?

Jasdeep: I think it all boils down to education. The importance of mental health needs to be emphasized in schools and colleges; this can be done by including it in the curriculum. Children need to be taught that mental illness is just as important and real as fever and jaundice.

Many people have had to talk their peers out of suicide, sometimes at even 3 am. In such situations, they are at a loss of what to say. What is the most appropriate way to handle such a precarious situation?

Jasdeep: To be honest, there is no “appropriate” or “right” way to handle something this sensitive. Pay attention to signs. What I would suggest is that, if you know a friend with a mental illness or suicidal tendencies, accept their condition for what they are, and give them attention. Talk about it. What they need is for you to be their friend, not their doctor. Support is everything.

Depression and anxiety are common in teenagers and young adults nowadays. In what ways can schools and even universities equip themselves to better deal with these problems in students?

Jasdeep: Start with baby steps. The first step would be to include mental health in the curriculum. Every six months, they should have mental-health check-ups, essentially screenings for depression, ADHD, anxiety disorders, etc. These are very simple to conduct and don’t cost much. Plus, there are loads of NGO’s willing to lend a hand. It needs to be emphasized that a psychologist or psychiatrist is like any other doctor, and all they want is to help you get better – this will encourage students to seek a proper treatment. Teacher-training by professionals is also very important, so they know how to deal with situations related to mental health. This will allow them to notice when someone is going through something mental-health-related.

Drug addiction is another problem; most of the time, it comes under the umbrella of mental health. All of this will sensitize teachers and principals to mental-health-related issues.

What are your thoughts on the surge in popularity of the Blue Whale Challenge? What we can do to stop this crazy trend?

Jay: I think the Blue Whale Challenge is the doing of a few people who are targeting the vulnerable group of society, mainly those with mental issues. Everyone is on Facebook and WhatsApp these days, which is why finding information about people is easy. All of this is simple propaganda which feeds on vulnerability and naivete. Awareness is the cure.

Jasdeep: The bigger issue here is the extensive use of the Internet by impressionable minds. What are they indulging in? They have deep-rooted self-esteem issues and low confidence that lead them to indulge in such things. Parents should be aware and should know where to intervene when there is an extreme case. This could be done by knowing who their friends are and the company they keep. Parents need to strike a middle ground by taking control of the situation. 90% kids are neglected, causing drug addiction and extreme steps such as suicide. This can be solved if parents start taking interest in their child’s life.

Self-denial is a major problem in people with depression: they simply refuse to accept their disease and get treated. 

Jasdeep: See, I think self-denial can be linked back to what I said earlier. Education and awareness are the answers. Today, mental disease is synonymous with weakness, which is why people self-deny. It’s all because of stigma.

What are your thoughts on the Mental Health Bill, 2017?

Jasdeep: The fact remains that 60% of us don’t know much, or anything, about this Bill. Small steps are being taken every day, either by the government or other organizations. What I believe is that you can’t blame the system for all that is happening; you need to step up and approach the Government.

I’ve been meaning to ask this from the beginning, but I’m curious about the significance of the hand-sign so often featured on your Instagram.

Thank you @nehadhupia for your support ❤️❤️❤️ We hope to see you on Sunday at @marketcitykurla 6-9pm . . . #Repost @nehadhupia (@get_repost) ・・・ NOW YOU SEE IT Join Invisible Illness in their movement to fight the good fight. Help raise awareness on mental health related issues, suicide prevention and its possible solutions. 1)Post a picture with the Hand Symbol of Now You See It (as I have) 2)Tag @invisibleillnessind and 3)Tag 3 friends to spread the word and do the same. Join the march … 6pm -9pm ,on 10th of September. pheonix market city , Kurla mumbai Every step towards of ours towards awareness, is a step towards recovery. #invisibleillness #nowyouseeit #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealth #suicideprevention #10thseptember #wecanhelp #stopstigma

135 Likes, 2 Comments – Invisible Illness #NowYouSeeIt (@invisibleillnessind) on Instagram: “Thank you @nehadhupia for your support ❤️❤️❤️ We hope to see you on Sunday at @marketcitykurla…”

Jay: If you notice, all the hand-sign pictures are marked with #nowyouseeit. The sign is one eye covered, and the other not. This is used to show how society has been blind to mental health for so long, that no one has had any clue of awareness. The other eye, however, signifies the opening of society’s minds, to mental health issues.

As a part of ‘Mind Your Head’ Campaign, IWB seeks and wishes to promote free dialogue on the various mental health issues that are stigmatized by the society. Share your story with us.

 

First published on Nov 30, 2017.

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