It’s okay to not be okay
Mental health refers to the way people think, feel and act as they face life’s different situations. Our mental health dictates how we handle stress, cope with life issues, and make key decisions. So, it can be said that having good mental health is just as important as having good physical health.
Despite the fact, there is a stigma that surrounds mental illness in our society and because of this, millions of people affected by it are unable to receive the help they need. Even though society has come so far in understanding how depression and other mental illnesses work, the conditions are still marked out and an extremely prevalent health issue is overlooked.
To overcome this modern-day taboo, ConnectHear put together an awareness session on mental health, in collaboration with the Mental Education and Care Association (MECA), for the deaf community of Lahore. The event took place last summer and was held at Daftarkhwan, welcoming around 50 participants in attendance.
The session began with a talk from Ayesha Shahid, a local practising clinical psychologist, who was able to communicate and engage with the audience through the help of a sign language interpreter from ConnectHear.
Common mental health issues were covered, primarily on how to deal with stress and anxiety. Ms. Ayesha spoke about the basic elements of these issues and what they are from a clinical perspective, what factors are included that cause them, and the impact they can have on the mind of an individual.
The audience was educated on the topic of mindfulness, which refers to a person being aware and conscious of the workings of their thoughts. This means paying close attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them or believing that there is a certain “right” or “wrong” in the way we think or feel in a certain situation.
Ms. Ayesha then encouraged crowd participation by engaging them in various mental and physical activities. One of these tasks involved utilising our 5 senses by identifying objects present inside the room to help us be situationally aware of what is around us.
The platform was open for the listeners and viewers to ask questions and gain valuable advice. People took turns talking about their troubles and focus on how they felt stress because of common issues such as family problems, household, work-place stress, financial difficulties, exams, and so forth. The main concern, which the deaf community shared, was regarding how they would feel stressed out whenever their family members or work colleagues were unable to understand them due to language and communication barriers.
The experience ultimately proved to be a fruitful one for the audience, as alongside having their issues heard by someone, they were provided with helpful words of advice to combat anxious and dire thoughts. Breathing exercises were also taught, which enabled the audience to find a way to relax and suppress their thoughts whenever they felt anxious.
The session ended with an arousing speech about how you should not be afraid to reach out to someone when you’re experiencing mental issues and how there will always be someone willing to listen to you in these times. It is better to express how you are feeling and through sharing our experiences, we can create greater bonds with our loved ones.
Mental illness is something that everyone struggles with in their everyday lives, which is why it is very important to make these awareness sessions accessible to every individual and with sign language interpreters, that is what we aim to do. Together, MECA and Connecthear were able to successfully send a message across to the brave individuals from the deaf community that it is okay to not be okay.
We hope this initiative will lay the groundwork for other organisations to follow suit. These campaigns will be the first step towards creating a progressive and inclusive society that recognises each and every issue that we all face.