On 27 October, Psychological Health and Wellness Clinic (PWHC) hosted an event marking World Mental Health Day. The event was called 'Stop the Stigma,' which observed the cause with a day filled with collaborative activities and panel discussions by experts in the field.
The guest speakers comprised Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed, Associate Professor of Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Dr Christopher Adkins, a US-trained Family General Physician working at the Family Health Practice in Dhaka since April 2015.
Dr Ahmed explained the roles of adolescents in a changing world, and Dr Adkins spoke about Mental Health and Primary Healthcare in Bangladesh.
Interactive activities throughout the event included a morning yoga session with Ulfath Kuddus, certified from Sivananda Yoga in 2013. The aim was to promote relaxation and emotional control through yoga, as studies show that it can provide relief for patients dealing with depression, anxiety, or stress.
There was an art section, 'Art for the Soul,' where participants learned the therapeutic effects of fluid art. There were also dedicated rooms for a video presentation of 'an immersive journey through mental illness,' and memory tests.
At the event, there were seminars and mindfulness exercises by Dhaka's newest drive in the mental health scene. Nutritionist Marina Farook spoke about the importance of food and diet on enhancing our strength physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
Founder of Thrive Women, Ashna Chowdhury, spoke on the subject of social acceptance and external validation with her 'healing the disease to please' seminar.
Yellow Brick Road had a workshop on emotional intelligence where founder Farin Daulah collaborated with Alice Cho to help the participants walk through five steps of achieving emotional intelligence as a campaign for adolescent empowerment.
Lastly, Ampersand, a spoken word group of Dhaka, provided a platform for attendees to partake in creating and performing spoken word poetry through short exercises, guided by founding member, Shakil Ahmed. Ampersand was tied in to show that poetry can be a powerful outlet for expressing and processing thoughts, feelings and emotions.
A panel discussion was held to conclude the event. Panelists were consultant psychiatrist and managing director of PHWC Dr Ashique Selim, counsellors Monica Nayar, and Nissim Jan Sajid, and author and patient of PHWC, Lamia Islam.
At the event, Dr Selim explained what stopping the stigma means to him –
“People should treat psychological health as they would treat any other part of their body. We want to build a society that encourages conversation and empathy towards mental health issues. If we can break the stigma today, our next generation of Bangladeshis will be born into a country where there are no barriers to seeking and getting the right care for their psychological wellbeing.”