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

The Guilt of Happiness in Grief

TRIGGER WARNING- GRIEF, DEATH

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

 –  Vicki Harrison

So much of our lives is spent wondering about what happens in death-anticipating it, fearing it, dreading it- for ourselves or our loved ones. Life, after all, is written in pencil. A death, to say the least, goes beyond just the death of the deceased. Undoubtedly, it takes a shift of the mountains to come to terms with it, and let it sink in. Its ever-lasting imprints on the loved ones shake the course of one’s life- more or less in a painful, sudden and unexpected way. What often goes unnoticed is that the feelings of loss, sadness, and loneliness experienced after any death is often magnified by feelings of guilt, shame, confusion, rejection, anger, and the effects of trauma. The process of bereavement, healing and recovery is a complex one, different in its magnitude and manifestation, and through it all, never, ever easy.

Often in the wake of something as intense an experience as this one, we look for small shimmers of light. A ray of hope to remind ourselves that what we’re facing today is not the reality of a lifetime. Reading a book, feeling excited about going out on a coffee date, or simply planning a walk to the beach. Your feelings seem normal enough, until that part when there’s an influx of guilt or regret. A sense of shame entailing you when you pick a moment of happiness in those trying times. You had enough hard days; but when you feel good, should you feel guilty about smiling? Or having fun?

Oftentimes, while grieving, feelings are layered with contradictions- you can be angry but also relieved, happy but also frustrated, sad but also grateful. Grief is an incredibly complex process that is not all about letting the turmoil consume you, but is also about acceptance, care and gratitude, and while at it,  about navigating through the complexity of it all. Contrary to Psychologist Kubler Ross’s theory, the experience of grief, healing and bereavement is neither linear nor segmented or unitary. The only pattern observed in it is a pattern of constant fluctuation, uncertainty and divergence. There are threads of happiness, however, which resurface at unexpected, but important moments, even if they are ephemeral or transitory. These moments often stem from acknowledging the immense worth life has, valuing the little bundles of positivity and hope, and appreciating one’s resilience in the face of tragedy or loss. If the purgatory of grief indeed coexists with the fluidity of emotions and thoughts, both light and dark, then why do we shy away from it? 

Perhaps, it’s the yearning for the loved ones we have lost, the survivor’s guilt, or just the connection we share with those no longer with us. The darkness can become inconspicuous on some days, overbearing on others. What is important to remember, however, is that those bittersweet moments- of joy, of hope, of acceptance, do not go in vain. The only cure to grief, after all, is to grieve, and the process to grieve includes anything and everything that accompanies you along the journey. There is no black or white, no right or wrong, no happy or sad; the process of healing and bereavement includes every little moment that has something to speak with you, something that makes you feel, something you hold on to, and something you let go.

It is not easy to delineate how a process so incredibly intense looks like. It reminds me of Musician Mike Shinoda’s album “Post Traumatic” which is a courageous and honest attempt towards it. It illustrates how this journey pans out- more or less in a realistic and raw way. Channeling  emotions and thoughts in an anthemic way- through songs and their accompanying visuals, this piece of record starts at a very dark place, reflecting on the chaos and denial attached to losing a loved one, and then proceeds to slowly permeate into different directions. While it includes the struggles, it also includes the triumphs. I would recommend listening to this album from the start till the very end, because listening to it has made me acknowledge that this journey is not devoid of the good days, and certainly not devoid of the feeling of being happy, rightfully so. Starting from lines that question “Am I a part of a vision made by somebody else?” to ending with “some days it doesn’t take much to bring me down, but I’m floating above it all” it reminds us all, that you are allowed to find joy again, to feel the delight, and to smile with glee, unapologetically and with all of your heart.   

If you need support, we are just a text/mail away. Write to us at peersupport@yourewonderfulproject.org. 

 

Reference

 

To listen to Mike’s Shinoda’s album Post Traumatic, click here: https://www.mikeshinoda.com/posttraumatic 

https://open.spotify.com/album/4lK6KE5ifwEnMOdHLEwVso?autoplay=true

 

To find helpful websites for healing and support for grief and bereavement, click here: https://www.griefcounselor.org/resources/helpful-websites/