Kerala parent support group TogetherWeCan’s series ‘Speak Up’ addresses mental health
TogetherWeCan is a prominent parent support group from Kerala. Few weeks back, they started an online series ‘Speak Up’ which provides platform to people from all walks of life to talks about mental health problems, an issue that needs to be addressed during the current times.
The Coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns have affected or rather changed lifestyles of every person. People prefer to stay indoors to stay safe from getting infected by Coronavirus. Classrooms have been shifted to online sessions where kids attend classes from home. During these tough times, students, parents and teachers undergo numerous challenges that must be addressed before its too late. TogetherWeCan (TWC), a prominent parent support group from Kerala, has started a series ‘Speak Up’ where those who undergo mental health problems can discuss about it virtually and in return seek help. Indeed a great initiative that highlights on mental health, team at TWC hopes that many people will benefit from the initiative.
Importance of mental health
Post lockdown, since people are confined to their homes, reports of child abuse and domestic violence have increased. This is precisely the reason why mental health needs to be seen as a top priority.
“We have to start speaking up about such issues, basically anything that deals with mental health. The new normal is not OK if it affects people in a negative way. If you don’t address them now, we will have to face the repercussions for years to come. Sadly, talking about mental health is still considered a taboo in India”, says Seema Lal, Co-founder, TWC.
A shift of classes to online platforms has affected not just students but parents too. They must work together in order stay mentally fit during such tough times. Seema further adds that it is unfortunate that even preschoolers have to attend such online sessions which goes up to hours.
“The neurodevelopment of a child needs to be considered and is most crucial until age of six. But what is happening currently breaks my heart. Young kids are made to stand for online assemblies and made to do assignments. Why do we do this to our kids?”, she asks.
‘Speak Up’, an innovative initiative
‘Speak Up’ wants to bring together people who are facing mental health issues so that they are addressed without delay.
According to Seema, the reason they decided to start the series on an online platform is because more people are using social media now. That makes it easier to connect, talk and discuss.
Including holding of a webinar, TWC has released four videos of the ‘Speak Up’ series, all of which have been getting great responses. Write-ups and videos are what they mostly use which are then uploaded on their YouTube channel and social media.
“’Speak Up’ is a platform for anyone to talk about mental health and problems that they are facing. TWC has been always working on family empowerment. But during these Covid times, empowerment of parents have become inevitable. Parents must understand their role in their child’s education”, says Seema who further adds that fear and silence are two reasons why abuse happens. “Unless people speak up, abuse will keep happening. It will become a new norm which is unhealthy”, says Seema.
People from different walks of life message and communicate with Team TWC who in turns decides the topics to be discussed for the week according to concerns that they get. “Our government must take mental health in par with general health. We have exclusive departments for that. Why is mental health still not considered important?”, asks Seema who has a valid and important question.
Padma Pillai, another co-founder has been teaching her son with a neurodevelopmental condition through online platforms for past eight years. “There are some parts of the syllabus that needs to be covered online. But otherwise there is no need to expose a small child to technology so much. What kids can learn from books, no technology can replace that. It is not OK for kids to be glued to gadgets”, says Padma who adds that kids with ADHD acquire more disorders if exposed too much to online platforms. “There is no substitute for human interaction and books”, she says.
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