Every year, we celebrate Mental Health Awareness in the month of May. It was started in 1949 by the Mental Health America organisation. Back then, the organisation was known as the National Association for Mental Health.
The Mental Health Awareness Month was established to educate the masses about the importance of mental health. In no time, the movement soon started to gain global attention, including India, as well.
According to studies, 7.5% of the Indian population is affected by mental health. Quick math tells you that that’s around 10 crores! WHO predicts the percentage will rise up to roughly 20% by the end of 2020. Remember, this prediction was calculated before the coronavirus outbreak. This is exactly we mental health awareness is important, especially now.
The need to spread the importance of mental health awareness…
Along with the global pandemic, social and political issues also affect your mental health. In the light of the recent and divisive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and the upcoming Pride Month, we decided to dedicate this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month to the LGBT community.
Decriminalisation of Section 377 of the India Penal Code was seen as a win for the LGBT community and was celebrated throughout the country. Even though the situation is far from perfect, it’s still better than what it was 2 years ago.
We reached out to a lot of people from the LGBT community to tell us how mental health affected their dating and sex lives, before the decriminalisation of Section 377. Considering the overwhelming response we got, we decided to divide it into 5 parts – politics, representation, friends, family and workplace.
One of our respondents said, “Until 2018, I was afraid to engage in sexual relations.”
It’s absurd to think that in the year 2017, two consenting adults were afraid to have any sexual relations because of the interference of the law!
Echoing the sentiment, Ankita Dash also welcomed the move of decriminalising Section 377. “Section 377 was one of the biggest motivators for me to take up law. I would not like to live in a country where basic human rights are questioned. I am eager to bring about change in any way possible. People, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender, deserve to live a life of dignity.”
I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment Ankita shares. It’s nice to see someone who’s ready to bring about change in the flawed system.
But one anonymous respondent doesn’t share Ankita’s optimistic outlook. She feels there’s nothing one can do individually. “My girlfriend and I are happy in isolation from the rest of the world. We have no plans for staying in this country. Although, we do help people who are struggling. The decriminalisation of Section 377 and the trans bill was a huge win and we’re happy the country is taking a step in the right direction, but we want to live on our own terms. We lack the resources to fight the system. For now, our dating life is limited to our own trust circle.”
It might come off as pessimistic but I feel her outlook is quite rational considering the homophobic tendency of this nation. The recent YouTube v TikTok roast of Carryminati proved us that we have a long way to go. Using words like “chakka” and “gay” in a derogatory way shows that homophobia and transphobia are well and thriving.