Cinema as a medium to create awareness on mental health issues

ANI | Updated: Nov 05, 2017 16:30 IST

New Delhi,[India] November 5, 2017(ANI): The second day of the 21st WFMH World Congress witnessed discussions on cinema and mental health; and the proper operationalisation of the soon to be implemented Mental Healthcare Act 2017.

The World Congress was organised by the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH), global alliance of mental health professionals, national health associations, NGOs, policy experts, and other institutions.

Key speakers included Award winning Film Producer, Director, and Actor - Prakash Jha, Senior Psychiatrist, Film & Theatre Actor Mohan Agashe, Writer, Broadcaster, Psychotherapist Lucy Beresford and Celebrity Trainer and Captain, Adidas Runners - Ayesha Billimoria. Chairing the sessions were none other than the Organizing Chairman of the Conference Dr Sunil Mittal.

Addressing the audience at Day two of the conference, WCMH Organizing Chairmen Dr Sunil Mittal and Dr Neelam Kumar Bohra said, "The sessions today were multifaceted in their approach, discussing everything from fitness for mental health to how cinema can help make an impact in addressing related issues. The session on the Mental Health Act was also insightful and brought the discussion into the forefront. While the Act itself is a positive step, we need to focus on how the act can be used for the benefit of people with mental health problems. If lack of awareness is the issue, media such as cinema can help remove this barrier, given its reach."

Speaking at the high-voltage session on cinema and mental health, Prakash Jha, Award winning Film Producer, Director, and Actor, said that it is very fortunate for a filmmaker if he/she is able to bring out a certain issue in the course of telling a story. Films are definitely a strong medium to keep issues under discussion. Behavior or situations may not change if we make films about them. But we must keep talking about it through some media so that people do not push them under the carpet. And films are one such medium. Mental health is taking the center-stage globally and films made on the subject have been and are doing well.

Mohan Agashe, Senior Psychiatrist and Film Actor, opined, "Films are perhaps the only medium that directly penetrate the unconscious and the subconscious alike. Cinema can depict reality in a way that no other source can. However, it is not possible for anyone to educate anyone else. Unless one decides to learn themselves and educate themselves, one cannot possibly force you to learn or understand anything. Similarly, films are a medium, but the real education and awareness has to happen at a more personal level."

Adding her views, Lucy Beresford, Writer, Broadcaster, Psychotherapist, said, "Storytelling is a very powerful medium. It is how young children learn about the world around them and it is how the elders instill values into them. Storytelling, in cinema as well, is therefore an effective way to educate and create awareness about issues such as mental health."

Ayesha Billimoria, Celebrity Trainer and Captain, Adidas Runners also conducted an experiential workshop on Fitness for Mental Health for all delegates. According to her, regular exercise and a focus on being fit is not only good for the body but can also have profoundly positive implications in coming out of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It can also help relieve stress, improve memory, help a person sleep better, and boost overall mood.

Other highlights of the day included sessions on Law and Mental Health: operationalizing the Mental Health Care Act 2017, mental health at the workplace and social work profession; burnout in mental health professionals and caregivers; and a practical workshop on using Kundalini Yoga to improve mental health outcomes.

In the session on law and mental health, speakers deliberated on the issues associated with the implementation of this Act. The session focused on how the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 is a step in the right direction in ensuring that power is in the hands of people seeking care. (ANI)