CHENNAI: Over 600 people from different walks of life including survivors of mental illness, psychologists, students and professionals took part in India’s first ‘Mad Pride Parade’ held at Elliot’s beach on Thursday.
The walk aims at educating the general public on mental health. It was organised by city-based metal health NGO, The Banyan, along with The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) and the Movement for Global Mental Health.
“The movement is coming to India because we feel it’s time that we take charge of the narrative of our stories and illness. We want to normalise the word ‘mad’ and take ownership of it. People think it is derogatory, but it is not,” said Anjali Singla, researcher and psychologist, BALM.
In 1993, Toronto in Canada saw the world’s first ever Mad Pride Parade, as a reaction to the local residents’ prejudices towards those living with mental health issues.
Anjali said, “Stigma creates silence and silence stops voices from coming out. Probably that is why we lose 40 lives to suicide every minute. It’s high time we create empathy.”
Apart from walkathon, the parade hosted talks on mental illness, games and a ‘Podium of Pride’ where the survivors took to stage to announce they have mental illness and they are not ashamed of it. “I suffered from depression and was bullied every day. I desired to heal and I am a survivor. All we need is a helping hand,” said one of them.
The volunteers laid stress on the disability allowance petition demanding fair and generous allowance to the mentally ill patients from the government, as the treatment is costly. “The fact that a lot of people joined the parade despite the stigma around it, is a major leap towards inclusion,” said V Balaji, a psychologist who participated in the parade.
Differently-abled students take a ride on Metro Rail
Chennai: To commemorate World Mental Health Day on Thursday, 40 students were taken on a ride in Metro Rail. Chennai Metro Rail Limited, in association with Rotary Club of Meenambakam and volunteers of Psy Hub, an institute for Mental Health, planned the event. The students were taken from Kilpauk to Airport Metro and back. A release said the trip was to create awareness about mental illness and to break the stigma surrounding it.