Mind over matter: Chapter two
June is international pride month. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals celebrate pride month, it's history, it's present and the future. Turns out the origins of pride month is a bit more complicated than you may think. The Stonewall Riots of 1969 are remembered as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. In the early morning hours of June 28th, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn in the West Village. This bar was an important space for NYC's underground gay community. Police raids were routine, but this time the community fought back, inciting what would become known as the Stonewall Riots.
46 years after the Stonewall Riots ushered in the contemporary gay rights movement, the American supreme court ruled in favour for same sex marriage. While gay rights have come a long way in the past few decades, there is still work to be done in terms of intersectionality and tolerance in general.
In India though, section 377 of the Indian Penal Code -- which was introduced during the British rule of India -- still criminalises sexual acts "against the order of nature". The decision that gay sex is a criminal offense was seen as a major setback for human rights and was also widely criticized. While prosecutions under section 377 have been rare, activisits have said that the police used law to harass and intimidate members of the LGBTQ community.
For pride month we have partnered with Kaha Mind to talk about stuff that really matters. Mental health + Love. As part of the partnership we are offering three counselling sessions sponsered by Shop Lune for anyone who'd like to speak to a professional and experienced counsellor but hasn't been able to. If you know someone who cannot afford a session or would like to book a session write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's one half of the interview we did with Aakriti Joanna, psychologist and founder at Kaha Mind about all things mental health, specific to the LGBTQ community.
1. A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU?
I am Aakriti Joanna. I run Kaha Mind. I have completed my Honours in Psychology and my MSc in Psychological Counselling. I have been a practicing counselling psychologist for over 5 years.
2. WHAT IS KAHA MIND?
Kaha Mind is a mental health platform that is run by experienced psychologists providing quality, private and personal sessions for various mental health concerns. Kaha Mind was started with the belief that every individual has the potential to change, grow and the right to feel better about themselves.
We offer online counselling through chat, call and video completely based on the convenience of our clients. These sessions include regular feedback and any additional mental health support in the form of resources.
3. LGBTQ AND MENTAL HEALTH
It’s a sad state but it’s true that due to social stigma and familial prejudices the LGBTQ community has higher rates of depression and mental illness. According to a recent report published by The Verge the LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. These statistics hold true for India as well and the added discrimination and social stigma towards mental illness discourages this community from seeking help. In 2015 in Chennai itself there were 16 LGBTQ suicides in just 18 months and these are the cases that were reported. It’s heartbreaking to see a community amongst us suffer this way.
4. ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION CAN GET THE BEST OF US. WHO MUST WE SURROUND OURSELF WITH IF WE ARE STRUGGLING WITH ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION OR BOTH?
Surround yourself with people who are supportive and understanding. Be with those who make you feel good about yourself and have a positive impact on your thoughts. Think of it as when you have a fracture, you’d avoid being around situations that would cause more harm and be around those who will help you take care of yourself. Similarly, when you’re fighting a mental illness, surround yourself with people who will be non judgmental and loving. Being around nature and anything that calms you down like music or art can also be hugely helpful. Take small walks or practice mindfulness and meditation. Set small targets and remember that you’re not alone. Most importantly remember to be kinder to yourself and keep the faith.