The world of mental health and public health policy advocates and formulates ideas of mental health that are general, non-specific and often insensitive to special needs of the various sub-sections of society. When it does address a sub-section of women, these policies and ideas are formulated primarily in the aspect of reproductive health to propagate mental well being of women who are mothers and thus whose emotional health impacts a legitimate concern. However, it is limited in itself as it does not address the person, the individual who is a woman prior to being a mother. The question then arises of the woman of today who adopts several roles besides the more traditional ones, but is still calling out to mental health professionals and policy makers in order to seek her share of attention and equality.
The Department of Psychology, Lady Shri Ram College for Women organizes the “Mental Health Awareness Week” every year. In 2012, Mental Health Awareness Week took the theme of “Women and Mental Health” with the intention of mainstreaming a gendered perspective into the field of psychology.
The objective of bringing engendered perspective into the field of psychology was addressed through organizing assemblies on specific concerns of women who disproportionately suffer from mental health disorders and are more frequently the victims of social conditions that lead to mental illness and psycho-social distress. A panel discussion on ‘Women at the Margins’ with the eminent experts, Dr. Achal Bhagat, senior consultant, psychiatrist and psychotherapist and Dr. Shelly Tara, senior fellow, WDC was held. The week witnessed enthusiastic participation in inter-college photography and poster making competitions and was concluded with a movie screening of “Into the Abyss” followed by a panel discussion with the director, Ms. Vandana Kohli.
The Psychology Department explored the ‘mother’ in the in-house play production “Black, White etc.” that sought to question the choices and needs of a woman as she enters motherhood. It was a well received show with commendable acting, a well-written script, appreciable stage management and an insightful direction.
Students and faculty from Departments of Psychology from various colleges across Delhi joined us in our search for a better understanding of women and their mental health. This second consecutive year of the “Mental Health Awareness Week” witnessed enthusiastic participation, as the psychology community at Delhi University initiated into listening to the gendered voices within psychology.