Emotional support groups are defined as a group of trusted peers comprising of family members, friends, or other community members who play a crucial role in sensitizing, sharing, and understanding the needs and concerns of someone in emotional distress.
“It’s so common, it could be anyone. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it. And that makes everything worse.”
Ruby Wax remarked that looking at the widespread problems of mental health in the UK, today the situation we find ourselves in isn’t different. We are constantly in a battle to make sure that we don’t put our truest emotions on display. Society made us believe that showing our emotions isn’t a sign of strength, but one of weakness. Which on its best day is a ridiculous argument.
Today, we find ourselves at a time where nearly 10% of our population is suffering from mental health problems. Approximately 5% of the population and more than 40% of our workforce is suffering from depression; 15 suicides happen every hour. With those staggering facts, it’s scary to know the total budget allocated to health care is 1.4% of India’s GDP lower than that of Sri Lanka and Nepal, and a mere 0.07% of that which amounts to Rs. 50 crore is allocated to mental health care in India which is much lower than the global average of 3%.
However, we aren’t here to discuss the problems that further plague this issue. An issue crippled with a lack of awareness, inadequate & insufficient help, and social stigma that further amplifies the problems of someone in distress. What we offer is a solution to come together to form India’s first emotional support network. And this benefits us in three ways:
Benefits of an emotional support network
- Builds awareness reduces stigma. We only know what we know. What we read about, talk about, discuss with our colleagues, friends, and family. How would we know about mental health when people barely talk about it, mostly under hushed voices. Through the entire process of building this emotional support network, we’ve come across people who’ve hidden their problems for over a decade. All out of the fear of what people around them would think. What people at work would think. Only later to find out that the colleague who sat opposite to them have experienced something similar. Having an emotional support network of peers with similar experiences helps in building that awareness which effectively reduces the stigma associated with it.
- Instills a stronger sense of belonging to the community. In a true community, no member feels like an outcast. When there is a sense of trust, belonging, and understanding. People suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental illness, often feel lonely and excluded from society. In an emotional support network, members are willing to lend an ear to those in distress, listen to their feelings, and help them better understand those feelings. This also instills a greater sense of empathy among members of the support network.
- A one-stop repository for everything related to mental health. Today, for most things you can google and readily find the answer that you were searching for, but when it comes to mental health, you’ll have to google and run through a few pages to actually find any useful relevant information. With our emotional support network, we aim to create a one-stop repository for any and all information regarding mental health that on the contrary may not be easily or readily accessible.
Will mental health ever be a priority in primary health for the concerned authorities? Probably, in time. In the meantime, we all can’t just sit back watch things turn worse, and wait for someone else to pull up their socks.
An emotional support group isn’t an alien concept. Most of us are lucky enough to find that in our closest circle, but not everyone has that privilege. All we aim to do is give it a structure. All to ensure that ‘you are never alone’ doesn’t end up just being a slogan but a norm.
Disclaimer: The author isn’t a licensed mental health professional. Views expressed in the article is purely an opinion and perception of the author. The views expressed above shouldn’t be taken as medical and/or professional advice.