Being privileged does not only mean having a silver spoon in your mouth since birth, it has different levels. People who say they love the rainy season, can happily say that because of the roof on their heads but what about the ones who don’t have that? Simple things that might not feel like an advantage to you, could mean everything to someone else.
Enter people of the minority. The people who struggle to access their set of basic human rights. The ones who became scapegoats and got crushed under the feet of people in the majority.
All of us are subconsciously familiar with the injustice towards minorities and how we intentionally or unintentionally contribute to it. We are aware of it, but unless it is pointed out and a conversation is openly started, how can we expect anything to change?
India is known for its diversity. Ethnicities having a higher population are well respected and deemed significant but what about people of the minority? If someone is unique, they are usually celebrated for their uniqueness but minorities have been subjected to discrimination, rejected, looked down upon, mistreated, degraded, and abused over the years by society, for something that wasn’t in their control. Only they know how they tolerated the injustice and sacrificed their peace of mind, and parts of themselves to be accepted by others. Imagine the intensity of accumulated agony inside them because of this, and not being able to get any form of help due to the same reason. They have been mentally and physically tortured and denied mental health care on the same grounds. Minorities are not aware of a lot of important things, but the most important part of it is how crucial mental health care is and that they have the right to get it.
Mental health is not just the mere absence of any mental illnesses but the complete balance of one's emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental Health has been stigmatized in India for longer than anyone can remember. People who come forward and ask for help are labeled ‘weak’ when in fact, it takes a lot of courage to accept when one needs assistance. Mental health issues can happen to anyone, but in minorities, it is considered shameful if someone talks about mental issues. They think being silent on such matters is better.
Bebe Moore Campbell was an American mental health advocate, author, teacher, journalist, and mother. Bebe tirelessly tried to shed light on the mental health needs of people of the minority. She couldn’t help her daughter, suffering from a mental illness, who was unable to receive treatment due to racial adversities faced by people of the minority. To honor her efforts towards raising awareness for minority mental health, on 2nd June 2008, Congress finally recognized July as the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
Everyone needs help and has the right to receive it.
Be it children, adults, or the elderly, people of the minority groups have been stripped of their rights and deprived of necessary things. This has led to years of built-up, concentrated trauma. They are made to feel sorry about the things one is proud of. Their talent, hard work, working on their personality, any other thing they do for society is in vain as they are still mistreated. When in hospitals, in need of unbiased physical or mental assistance, they have been neglected, their problems have been negated and they are not provided with the proper care that one deserves. Due to racial bias, lack of education, and prejudice towards people of the minority, they face a lot of difficulties getting or keeping a job. This leads to a low or unstable income and more pressure on them for taking care of their families. Many children coming from minority families are thus not able to afford basic education which leaves a slim chance for them to earn for themselves in the future. Less money, more pressure, illiteracy, not being able to cope in the competitive society and other adversities cause more mental issues in people of the minority. Nobody has spoken about it and thus, people are unaware. They are unfamiliar with the basic concept of mental health, and even if they are informed, these deprived humans are the least likely to report any problems and get help. If someone decides to ask for help, they are not able to get it as they cannot afford the expense of a therapist. Minorities are a smaller group of people having different races, cultures, religions, political ideas, etc. They also speak different and uncommon languages. As language is a huge part of expression and communication, not being able to comfortably converse in one's language acts as a barrier as there are very few therapy platforms where that option is available. These social exclusions and not being able to get or even ask for help has caused a high number of early deaths in minorities.
Something we can do to help:
People of minority groups feel lonely most of the time, they feel like no one understands them. We cannot make the years of trauma disappear but we can try to assuage their pain. Change needs to start at a more personal level.
We need to STOP INVALIDATING the struggles faced by people of the minority.
Spread awareness among people by being more approachable, talking to them, sharing your personal experiences, and trying to make them feel more comfortable and included, not alone or ashamed.
EMPATHY IS THE KEY TO CHANGE. Being empathetic, trying to understand the issues they have faced, and HEARING THEM OUT is very important.
As a society, we can help minorities by encouraging them to ask for help when they need it. We can also make general health care, especially mental health care easily accessible and affordable for them. Give them more opportunities. Provide help in their language, by people who they can relate to.
TALK about the importance of mental health, organize seminars, visit places where people of minority reside, and help them get educated on this topic.
Stop overanalyzing whether your actions make a difference. Do your share to NORMALIZE and DESTIGMATIZE mental health.
If you had extra water and you saw someone near you dehydrated and extremely thirsty, wouldn’t you want to help them? Or if you could give someone a chance to live a normal life? Or just help them with something they’ve been struggling with, by doing small things? Wouldn’t you? It might seem minuscule to you but could be the miracle another person was waiting for. Mental Health is the most significant aspect of one’s life today. Balancing it, maintaining it requires help, and some require it more than others. Do what you can to spread Minority mental Health Awareness today. #AwarenessIsTheFirstStep
About the Author
Content Writing Intern at EduPsych
Mahika is a passionate student, learning film production. She believes in prioritizing oneself and in the significance of well-maintained mental health. She wants to help and educate people through her writing. She has always been interested in various art forms. She loves reading and penning down poems. She is also a cinephile and loves exploring music in her free time.