newspiece photo

July the 17th: Seeing Mental Health through the lens of Crime and Justice

War, crimes and genocides have contributed to the development of mental illnesses and
psychosocial concerns at alarming levels. Contrary to popular belief, the embodied experience
of trauma is not restricted to the survivor alone. The vulnerability of trauma can be felt across
family members, generations, communities and geographies (Coddington & Micieli-Voutsinas, 2017). In fact, it was the psychological impact of the world wars that threw light on an
individual’s psychiatric response to stress. Differences observed in the presentation of
psychological symptoms among the soldiers established a strong association between war
conflicts and mental health (Murthy & Lakshminarayana, 2006).

Law enforcement, statutes and treaties can be viewed as tools for de-escalating crises,
which subsequently prevents worsening mental health conditions, especially in the vulnerable
population. One such celebrated statute is the Rome Statute that was adopted on the 17th of
July, 1988, establishing the International Criminal Court. This day is now observed as the
International Justice Day and commemorates not only the historic adoption of the Rome
Statute but also signifies the relevance of fighting against impunity and bringing justice to
survivors of war crimes. Coalition members all over the globe embrace this day by showing
solidarity with victims and survivors of grave crimes everywhere.

What is interesting about the Rome Statute is that it includes conflicts not only between
sovereigns and intra-state, but also crimes against civilians. The statute has established four
core international crimes to protect the people from genocide, war crimes, crimes against
humanity and the crime of aggression. After World War 1, an increase in heinous crimes was
observed, which further increased after World War 2. Torture, sexual violence, forced
pregnancy, murders and other inhumane acts injuring mental or physical health were then
categorised into crimes against humanity.

For its time, the Rome Statute can be seen as a revolutionary development for
recognising the importance of mental health and the impact different kinds of crime can have
on an individual and consequently their behaviour. The 17th of July is a solemn reminder for all
countries around the world to be committed to the protection of its citizens from any post-
conflict that may impact their psychological and physical well-being.

If you are currently struggling with mental health concerns arising from trauma or grief,
you can also reach out to the YWP; peer support team at
peersupport@yourewonderfulproject.org

 

References
Asp.icc-cpi.int. 2021. 17 July – Day of International Criminal Justice. [online] Available at:
<https://asp.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/asp/asp%20events/ICJD/Pages/default.aspx> [Accessed
11 July 2021].

Coalitionfortheicc.org. 2021. International Justice Day – 17 July | Coalition for the International
Criminal Court. [online] Available at: <https://coalitionfortheicc.org/international-justice-
day-17-july> [Accessed 11 July 2021].

Coddington, K., & Micieli-Voutsinas, J. (2017). On trauma, geography, and mobility: Towards
geographies of trauma. Emotion, Space And Society, 24, 52-56. doi:
10.1016/j.emospa.2017.03.005

Murthy, R. S., & Lakshminarayana, R. (2006). Mental health consequences of war: a brief review
of research findings. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association
(WPA), 5(1), 25–30.

(2021). Retrieved 11 July 2021, from http://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/ea9aeff7-5752-4f84-
be94-0a655eb30e16/0/rome_statute_english.pdf

Image for July Blog Post

Issues Minority Communities Face in Mental Health and the Importance of Support

While our society may differentiate among people based on class, caste, gender, socioeconomic status, or sexual preference, mental health conditions don’t. According to the Indian National Mental Health Survey (2015-16), 10% of the Indian population suffer from common mental disorders (Gururaj et al. 2016). This number is probably higher given the stigma surrounding reporting of mental health issues in our society. This stigma, as well as the sheer inadequacy of mental health professionals available in the first place, combined with the discrimination and social exclusion faced by minority communities, makes access to unstigmatised health care rarely possible.

Importance of Support
Recovery from existing mental health issues may be a personal journey, however the
importance of a support system cannot be overstated. Research has shown the positive effect a social support system can have on overall mental health (Fasihi Harandi, Mohammad
Taghinasab & Dehghan Nayeri, 2017). It should also be noted that although friends and family may provide us a listening ear and general support, for grave mental health concerns, reaching out to mental health professionals is essential.

Here is a list of some mental health professionals, support groups and general resources that
one can use to reach out.

1. The Blue Dawn: Blue Dawn is a community initiative/support group working by values of
community healing and a facilitator of accessible mental health services to Bahujans.
Website: https://thebluedawn.org/
2. Therapize India is a mental health service that provides access to therapists offering
their services below certain price point, queer-afffirmative as well as trauma-informed
therapists
Website: https://www.therapizeindia.com/

3. You’re Wonderful Project: Lastly, we at YWP also have a team of on-board professionals,
many of whom offer queer-affirmative and trauma-informed therapy. You can reach out
to our Peer Support Team at yourfriendincrisis@gmail.com to be referred to them.

 

 

References
1. Fasihi Harandi, T., Mohammad Taghinasab, M., & Dehghan Nayeri, T. (2017). The correlation of social support with mental health: A meta-analysis. Electronic Physician, 9(9), 5212-5222. doi:10.19082/5212
2. India, I. (2021). Mental health disparities in India. Retrieved 6 July 2021, from
https://www.ideasforindia.in/topics/social-identity/mental-health-disparities-in-india.html
3. Sharma, P. (2021). When bigotry invades mental healthcare: Women, sexual minorities are most
vulnerable to harassment. Retrieved 6 July 2021, from https://scroll.in/pulse/820412/when-
bigotry-invades-mental-healthcare-women-sexual-minorities-are-most-vulnerable-to-harassment

Managing Work-Related Stress during COVID – 19

COVID – 19 has brought about a whole new set of challenges for us all. This pandemic has instilled in us, a sense of uncertainty, confusion, and chaos among other things. Managing work-related stress has become more difficult now than ever. A study was conducted by Majumdar, Biswas & Sahu (2020) which investigated the outcomes of the COVID – 19 pandemic and lockdown on corporate sector professionals and students of India. It was found that the participants showed an increase in depressive symptomology which is likely due to confinement to home, anxiety, and stress along with sleep disturbances and abnormalities in sleeping patterns due to mental stress, anxiety, and screen exposure before bedtime. There were also reports of participants experiencing somatic pain. Other important stressors for working individuals may include factors like workload pressure, task interdependence, professional isolation, and family interference in work (Jamal, Anwar, Khan & Saleem, 2021), job insecurity, fear of getting infected, financial loss, stigma, and social exclusion (Hamouche 2020).

Apart from taking necessary COVID – 19 related precautions, here are some tips to manage stress at your workplace or WFH:

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness consists of being fully aware of ourselves and our surroundings and just observing our thoughts without judging or labeling them. The practice of mindfulness is linked with healthy emotional regulation. Hülsheger, Alberts,
Feinholdt & Lang (2013) conducted a study on employees which confirmed that the practice of mindfulness lessens emotional exhaustion and increases job satisfaction.

Establish clear boundaries
This may include saying no to things that you really can't do, avoiding checking work emails post working hours, and also communicating those boundaries to your colleagues and superiors. This may help you maintain a good work-life balance.

Take short breaks
Microbreaking is when you do brief activities to detach and disengage especially while doing monotonous tasks. This could include stretching, talking to another person, watching a funny video, etc. These breaks can provide you with calmness, reduction in stress, and improve attention and productivity.

Schedule a ‘worry hour’
Set aside a specific time in a day when you solely worry/stress. When these thoughts enter your mind at any other time of the day, gently remind yourself to delay engagement with those thoughts. This can help prevent stress from taking over you and negatively affect your job performance and efficiency.

Increase body movement
If your work requires you to sit on your desk all day, it’s important to include some body movements as leading a sedentary lifestyle could lead to problems in physical as well as mental health.

Whether you’re working from home or office, managing stress is crucial for
maintaining overall physical, emotional, and psychological well-being which is why YWP presents- Workplace Workshops: Happier Employees make Happier Workplaces! These tailor made corporate workshops focus on expanding safety and health in times like these with a larger aim to enhance mental health awareness. Please contact us at- rnd.ywp@gmail.com or call Akhilesh Nair +91 99588 27588 And for professional and or peer support please feel free to reach out to our team at YWP at peersupport@yourewonderfulproject.org

 

 

References
Majumdar, P., Biswas, A., & Sahu, S. (2020). COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown:
cause of sleep disruption, depression, somatic pain, and increased screen exposure of office workers and students of India. Chronobiology International, 37(8), 1191–1200. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2020.1786107

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07420528.2020.1786107

Jamal, M. T., Anwar, I., Khan, N. A., & Saleem, I. (2021). Work during COVID-19: assessing the influence of job demands and resources on practical and psychological outcomes for employees. Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, ahead-of(ahead-of-print). https://doi.org/10.1108/apjba-05-2020-0149

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/APJBA-05-2020-
0149/full/html

Hamouche, S. (2020a). COVID-19 and employees’ mental health: stressors,
moderators and agenda for organizational actions. Emerald Open Research, 2, 15.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7342058/

Hülsheger, U. R., Alberts, H. J. E. M., Feinholdt, A., & Lang, J. W. B. (2013). Benefits of mindfulness at work: The role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(2), 310–325.
https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031313

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23276118/

Gorvett, Z. (2019, March 13). The tiny breaks that ease your body and reboot your brain. BBC Worklife. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20190312-the-tiny-breaks-that-ease-your-body-and-reboot-your-brain

400px-Hysteria-1

Gender Bias in Mental Health Screening

By Charvi Koul

Member, Creative team

 

Everyone’s thoughts and decisions are influenced by the biases present in society. Even clinicians and therapists are not immune to them. They especially need to make a conscious effort to acknowledge these biases and not let them affect mental health diagnoses and treatment. One such factor that needs to be acknowledged is the effect of a person’s gender on the onset, symptoms, underlying mechanisms and response to treatment and the gender bias, and gender-blindness that exists in mental health diagnosis.   

A facilitator of gender bias in therapy is the traditional DSM approach and models which act in a gender-blind manner. The DSM does not take into account how a patient’s symptoms may be related to societal gender processes or that the diagnoses may be gender-biased. Behaviour patterns expressed by one gender may be deemed suitable but the same patterns displayed by the other gender may be declared problematic. Behaviours exhibited by a person that goes against the traditional gender norms can especially be seen as abnormal. For example, women who are “uncooperative” or “resistant” would have a higher chance of being seen as problematic rather than men. This can be very harmful when giving out a mental health diagnosis. 

For instance, women are more likely to be diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder, a disorder where a person’s symptoms include being seen as seductive, attention-seeking and dramatic. Society is quick to stereotype women into this role rather than men. Similarly, eating disorders often go underdiagnosed and unseen in men because the prevalent view is that these are disorders of teenage girls and women. Women are 2-3 times more likely to be depressed or have anxiety than men and 8 times more likely to have an eating disorder. On the other hand, men are more likely to suffer from alcoholism, antisocial behaviours and suicide. However, these effects of gender are often ignored by clinicians while screening and diagnosing people.

Being gender blind also leads to an assumption that the symptoms of a particular disorder will manifest themselves in the same manner across genders, which can be very misleading. Mental health issues often manifest differently across genders. For example, men suffering from eating disorders are known to indulge in overexercising whereas women are more likely to diet or purge their food. 

Current mental health professionals, as well as future budding mental health advocates, are also consumers of such stereotypes and assumptions. This makes it important for them to be informed of such tendencies and biases. To work upon the gender bias in the diagnosis of mental health issues, we must first acknowledge and educate clinicians and therapists on gender differences and their implications on mental health. From there on we need to assess whether certain diagnostic criteria are skewed towards a certain gender. It is important for clinicians to question their decisions from a gendered perspective before making a diagnosis and prescribing therapy or any sort of treatment. In the end, mental health professionals are human but they must make sure that their biases do not interfere with them being able to help their patients to the best of their abilities. 

 

 

 

References

Macfarlane, M. M., & Knudson-Martin, C. (2003). How to avoid gender bias in mental health treatment. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 14(3), 45-66. https://doi.org/10.1300/j085v14n03_04

Rojas, E. G. (2016). Gender Bias and Clinical Judgment: Examining the Influence of Attitudes Toward Women on Clinician Perceptions of Dangerousness [Doctoral dissertation]. https://doi.org/10.7916/D8WQ043B

 

Featured Image: “Hysterical Woman Screaming”, Photo by Albert Londe 1890. Via Pinterest

 

Why the Mental Health of New Fathers Matters

By Charvi Koul

Member, Creative Department

 

When it comes to parenting, a mother’s physical as well as emotional health is given great importance during childbirth. However, expecting fathers are almost always overlooked and their mental health is hardly seen as a concern. While it may be believed that fathers don’t have – or aren’t supposed to have – a share in the emotional trials of childbirth, research says that about 10% of fathers experience mental health issues such as depression after childbirth. One out of ten fathers suffer from Paternal Postpartum Depression and yet there is very little-if any-support and information on mental health available for them (Bazemore & Paulson, 2010). This furthermore creates barriers and hesitance amongst fathers when it comes to recognising their mental health issues and seeking help.

Becoming a father can be quite overwhelming. Not only does one have to step into new roles and change their lifestyle, but they also have to shoulder the responsibility of providing for the family. Often, fathers may be the sole breadwinners, increasing the stress and pressure on them. Due to the prevailing stigma regarding the mental health of men, fathers are unlikely to seek help, letting their anxiety, stress or depression build up over time. Depression and anxiety can then manifest in different ways such as aggression, irritability, self-isolation, increased substance abuse, and physical symptoms like gastrointestinal problems and headaches. It’s important to recognise these symptoms and seek help in time since mental distress can escalate, leading to suicide.

Fathers play a huge role in a family, whether it’s supporting mothers emotionally and financially or helping in the development of the children. Hence the mental health of fathers affects the family as a unit. Acknowledging the stress or mental illness would be the first step in the right direction, followed by support and understanding from the family and loved ones. In cases of stress, over exhaustion or feelings of being overwhelmed, simply taking out time for oneself by engaging in a hobby, picking up meditation or exercising and taking in fresh air might help. However consulting a mental health professional is very important and if necessary, therapy or medication should be undertaken.

Sadly, there also seems to be a dearth of information and support from society and professionals when it comes to the mental health of fathers. Most fathers are unable to get any helpful information regarding their postnatal mental health and mental health professionals are usually unsympathetic and do not take them seriously. More awareness needs to be created about how childbirth affects the mental health of not only mothers but fathers as well. New fathers are incredibly susceptible to mental illness, hence mental health specialists also need to be educated on this and we must work on destigmatising them. Health workers must assure fathers that they need and deserve mental health support and not only give them more information and support guidelines but also connect them to fathers support groups. Support groups can be great for sharing experiences, giving and taking advice as well as just having someone who can listen. As a preventive measure, we should also work towards building the confidence of future fathers and normalizing fathers’ emotional and physical involvement in the birth and development of their children, by providing them with more information regarding childbirth and taking care of a child.

The transition to parenthood is a tough one and both mothers and fathers must receive the support and mental health care they need. Being a father comes with its own responsibilities so the least we can do to help is make sure that fathers have all the encouragement and support from society and health specialists they need to take care of themselves and develop into healthy fathers for their children. 

 

References

International fathers’ mental health day. (n.d.). Centre for Perinatal Psychology. https://www.centreforperinatalpsychology.com.au/international-fathers-mental-health-day/

Mayers, A. (2020). Fathers’ mental health: Why is it important? BMC Series blog. https://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcseriesblog/2020/06/22/fathers-mental-health-why-is-it-important/

Mental health care for dads. (2019, February 19). MindWise. https://www.mindwise.org/blog/mental-health/mental-health-care-for-dads/

Paulson, J. F., & Bazemore, S. D. (2010). Prenatal and postpartum depression in fathers and its association with maternal depression. JAMA, 303(19). https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2010.605

Promoting fathers’ mental health during children’s early childhood. (n.d.). NICHQ – National Institute for Children’s Health Quality. https://www.nichq.org/insight/promoting-fathers-mental-health-during-childrens-early-childhood

 

Image for blog addressing aftermath of suicide

Addressing the Aftermath of Suicide: The Need for Postvention

Trigger warning: Suicide

In the year 2019, over 90,000 young adults died by suicide in India, highlighting the need for improving accessibility to mental health services and crisis intervention (Rampal, 2020). While suicide helplines are in place to provide support to individuals with suicidal thoughts, there is a need to create improved frameworks for the loved ones of individuals who die by suicide.

The loss of a loved one is often a traumatic event, but bereavement by a suicide brings with it a unique set of concerns. People who have lost loved ones to suicide may be hesitant to disclose the cause of death. This is because in most countries, including India, there is stigma around mental illness; and suicide is also considered to be a ‘sin’ by many religions. People may also be unsure about how to offer support when the death is caused by suicide. As a result, coping with grief related to suicide is harder to overcome.

Further, the loved ones bereaved by suicide may also be confronted with difficult emotions such as anger at the loved one, and misplaced guilt for not predicting what happened (eg. ‘If I had checked up on them more often this would not have happened’). Additionally, suicide is a major existential event that can lead to a person challenging their key beliefs and assumptions about the world. Finally, individuals who have lost a close relative or friend to suicide are also more likely to contemplate suicide (De Groot and Kollen, 2013).

As a result of all of these factors, suicide postvention becomes of utmost importance. Suicide postvention refers to various programs and interventions that are conducted for survivors following a death by suicide. Suicide postvention programs are designed to facilitate recovery after the loss of a loved one because of suicide and prevent deaths by suicide (Andriessen, 2009). Postvention can be carried out for various individuals impacted by suicide, including parents, classmates, colleagues, extended family and so on. Moreover, postvention can be carried out in clinical, community and residential settings.

Examples of suicide postvention activities include grief counselling, providing survivors with details of support groups they can attend, strengthening social networks etc. While losing a loved one to suicide is an irreparable and traumatic loss, with appropriate psychosocial support individuals can cope with grief, find new meaning in life and even experience post traumatic growth.

If someone you know has lost a loved one to suicide, you can help them by offering emotional and material support, and avoiding intrusive questions. Finally, if you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or have lost a loved one to suicide, feel free to reach out to YWP;’s peer support team to get referrals to qualified mental health professionals. Follow our Instagram page for more information.

 

 

References

Andriessen, K., Krysinska, K., Kõlves, K., & Reavley, N. (2019). Suicide postvention service models and guidelines 2014–2019: a systematic review. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2677.

Minahan, J. A. (2016, October). Suicide and shame. The General Psychologist.
http://www.apadivisions.org/division-1/publications/newsletters/general/2016/10/suicide-shame

https://www.indiatoday.in/diu/story/ncrb-report-data-india-young-adults-suicide-2019-india-1717887-2020-09-02

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/left-behind-after-suicide

ptsd_Image

PTSD Awareness Day: Common Misconceptions related to PTSD

“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.”
― S. Kelley Harrell, Gift of the Dreamtime

Investigating the researches available, in recent decades due to natural or man made disasters in India have evaluated to understand the prevalence and symptomatology of PTSD in studied population. The prevalence of PTSD in the researches is largely variable from minimal involvement to almost approximately 70 %.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can happen to any individual after experiencing a traumatic event that has lead to feel fearful, shocked, or helpless. It can have long haul impacts, including flashbacks, trouble sleeping, anxiety and uneasiness.

The vast majority who go through traumatic events may have impermanent trouble changing and adapting, yet with time and great self-care, they ordinarily improve. On the off chance that the symptoms deteriorate, keep going for quite a long time or even years, and meddle with your everyday working, the individual may have PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, however some of the time symptoms may not show up until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can likewise meddle with your capacity to approach your typical everyday errands.

The principle symptoms of PTSD are:
● re-encountering the injury (recollections, bad dreams or flashbacks),
● staying away from reminders of the injury/trauma,
● negative thoughts and state of mind,
● being extremely alert,
● what’s more, having an actual reaction to abrupt changes that could be an indication of risk

The most common misconceptions about post traumatic stress disorder are as follows:

Myth: PTSD is simply stress after a trauma.
Truth: There is a term for the individuals who feel pressure after a traumatic event—it’s designated “being human”. It’s totally ordinary to feel pressure after a traumatic event. On the off chance that one didn’t feel pressure subsequently, wouldn’t that appear to be odd? PTSD is far beyond feeling pressure and it’s something that creates and waits for quite a long time, months and even a long time after the traumatic event. Normal side effects of PTSD incorporate flashbacks to the horrible mishap, uneasiness, sleep deprivation, social withdrawal, alarm reflex and crabbiness, and these can keep going quite a while after the trauma. That, however side effects regularly hinder having the option to work on an everyday premise.

Myth: PTSD isn’t real and people should just “get over it.”
Truth: PTSD is genuine, and it’s a perceived conclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a distribution by the American Psychiatric Association intended to explain the standard models of mental issues.

Myth: Everyone who experiences trauma will have PTSD
Truth: To be diagnosed to have PTSD, indications should endure longer than 30 days. Nonetheless, around 90% of people who experience PTSD-like indications in the wake of encountering a trauma have their symptoms resolve normally inside a month, especially when they get help. Regularly these people are rather experiencing acute stress disorder, which is a brief period of psychological stress have a traumatic event. The symptoms od acute stress disorder may incorporate tension, elevated reactivity, and sleep deprivation.

Myth: The traumatic event must be violent to get PTSD
Truth: An assortment of awful events can cause PTSD, not just rough occasions/ traumatic events. An individual can insight, witness, or be defied with an occasion that undermines trauma, passing, or the danger to other people. PTSD frequently happens following an individual’s reaction to an event that conjures extreme sensations of dread, awfulness, or powerlessness. Almost 25% of ladies who have a mastectomy foster PTSD, and numerous COVID-19 forefront laborers are currently detailing PTSD side effects.

Myth: A person with PTSD will always have PTSD
Truth: Numerous people who experience the ill effects of PTSD discover help from their symptoms and are dealt with effectively. Treatment choices incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy, psychopharmacology, and patient education. These customary treatments have great achievement rates and numerous PTSD victims discover help.

As the world gradually moves ahead during these difficult times, we should attempt to recognize and disperse the myths about PTSD. Perceiving the symptoms of trauma in ourselves as well as other people is an incredible initial step.

 

 

 

References:
Brazier,Y.(2019), PTSD: What you need to know. Medicalnewstoday.
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/156285#symptoms-and-diagnosis

Dispelling 5 Common Myths About PTSD, Beverly hills therapy group.

Dispelling 5 Common Myths About PTSD

Pitman, S. (2017), The 5 Most Common Misconceptions About PTSD, Huffpost.
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-five-most-common-misconceptions-about-ptsd_b_5950e6c4e4b0326c0a8d09be

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), (July, 2018), MayoClinic
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967