I Need Support. Simple - My Take
When you fill a form for a job, or an Aadhaar card or an identity card, an airline ticket, holiday resort, educational institution, or any place that needs a form to be filled, there should be a column that says 'Support Area'.
As simple as that.
In that column, I can fill in Autism, Asthmatic, Downs Syndrome, COPD, Prolapsed disc, Mental Retardation, Myopia, Vision impairment, Bypass Surgery.
In other words, I am living with a health condition that requires support from the environment, irrespective of whether it's a mental or physical health issue. So this is what it will look like.
Support Area: Yes/ No (If yes, give details and indicate short term or long term)
Skills: This can range from watering plants to graphic design to chopping vegetables to writing short stories.
Inclusion is all about giving support and it has to become a way of life. There are plenty of people who require support with mental or physical health issues and given a supportive work environment, can contribute a lot. There is no particular need to make mental health issues into a separate and forbidding zone.
My dad has a medical history of bypass surgery. He carries an identity card that specifies instructions in case of a medical emergency. His skills include knowledge of Indian agriculture and numerology.
My daughter has autism. Her card will read something like this:
Name: Jayanthi Chakrapani
Blood Group: B+
Support Area: Autism/Long term
Details: Non-verbal, uses sign language, needs physical escort outside the home/premises/no reading/writing
Skills: Kitchen helper/Computer data entry/Product labelling and packaging with mentor.
This at a glance gives a clear indication that she is living with a serious health issue that requires support but hey! All is not lost- look at the number of things she can do.
By making this compulsory in all forms that need to be filled, we will be sensitizing entire generations of people all over the world. Uplifting mental health issues by treating them in a very matter-of-fact manner. Encouraging people to be open about serious medical issues. Preventing accidents and be more prepared for medical emergencies. Making inclusion a ground level reality.
About the Writer
Sangeetha Chakrapani is the Founder/Co-worker of Together Life Skills Centre, a training centre in Mumbai that prepares people with intellectual impairments for independent living. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org/Ph:9930358173.