Rejuvenating the Mind Amidst COVID
“We made the best out of the worst days of COVID; in fact, we celebrated those days”, says Father George Joshua, Director of Arch Bishop Mar Gregorios Snehaveedu, a Trivandrum based Psycho Social Rehabilitation Centre dedicated for men suffering from various mental illnesses. The outbreak of COVID 19 and the subsequent lockdown created a negative impact on the mental health of many, he explains.
However, the community at Snehaveedu, he says, was immune to what he calls “the emptiness and hollowness of the lockdown”. Fr. Joshua was quick to foresee that the lockdown restrictions could impact their outdoor activities and came up with alternative measures to make the members equipped with indoor activities and cultural programs. “We got plenty of time to invest in arts and folklore; folk programs had a tremendously positive impact on the members and this helped us to try a hand in folk therapy as well”, said Fr. Joshua.
Snehaveedu, located in Trivandrum is presently the home for 98 men who are suffering from various mental illnesses. With an eco-friendly atmosphere, the institution and the outer community also aim to provide the right ambience for eco-therapy, another treatment it offers.
Normalizing mental health is one of the primary objectives of Snehaveedu. The members are not locked down in the institution, instead they are given the space to move freely in the outer community, socialize and live their life like any normal person.
Snehaveedu not only creates changes in the lives of its members but also brings about change in mindset towards mental health.
It’s quite common to see members going out to graze cows or engaging in small talks with the community outside. This helps to eventually break the fears and prejudices of the community regarding people living with mental illnesses.
Fr. Joshua believes every individual has the right to live so they should be given the space to live, grow and heal. Mental health problems make them unable to be aware of their rights and claim them. Fr. Joshua is determined to become a benign voice for them and their rights.
“Don’t stigmatize them, don’t hide them, let their life be normal. Mental health is just like physical health, both requires equal care” – Fr Joshua.
Elsa Sunny is pursuing her II MA, English Literature at Loyola College, Chennai.