Ayaan Shams Siddiquee
Mental health refers to a person’s cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being by defining a person’s behavioural pattern and thought processes. Regarded as one of the most crucial aspects of a person’s life, mental health is severely deprioritised in the socio-economic context of Bangladesh. While the educated youth and middle and upper middle class people of our society recognise mental health as a serious issue, the working class people in the country are nowhere near to these discussions, solely because they cannot afford to do so. To tackle and shed light on the two issues: Gender Based Violence, and Mental Health—the third episode of the first season of ‘Let’s Talk, Dhaka’, was broadcasted on 18 September.
To provide their valuable insight on the matters at hand, the guests for the third episode were Yeshim Iqbal, founder of Kaan Pete Roi, Banasree Mitra, Gender Advisor at Manusher Jonno Foundation, and Zobaida Nasreen, Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology at Dhaka University.
The live event was initiated with a small story from a recent news coverage, aimed towards the normalisation of mental health. There onward, the question of accessibility to mental health resources and open mental health conversations was brought up. Yeshim Iqbal strongly emphasised on the growing accessibility of social media campaigns and awareness programmes.
“The ones talking about mental health belong from a very limited circle. How many people are we reaching? This is where our responsibility comes in,” she said.
She further added that there still remains a gap in knowing the exact thought process of the suicidal working class or middle class people.
Banasree Mitra spoke on the topic of violence and mental health within the working class women.
“When we are talking about mental health and violence for the women, you cannot classify them; there are no classes. 80% of the women in our country have been victims of violence in their homes. Every woman has faced violence in their lives, irrespective of their classes,” she shared.
She also shed light on the different forms of violence women have to face on a daily basis, mixed with the fear of possibly being abused either in their workplace or at home.
Zobaida Nasreen prioritised the role of the Covid-19 pandemic and its contribution to the rise of gender based violence. She added how the existing statistics surrounding violence against women were based on the reported cases, and how the actual magnitude of abuse is much higher.
“The trauma that women go through after being abused, added with the fear of telling someone and how they might perceive it and how society will react to it due to the social norms and traditions worsens their mental health greatly.”
She put enough emphasis on the fact that interrelation between mental health and gender based violence is ever-present and undisputed.
Throughout the course of the live event, all three of the guests shared their opinions while addressing the taboos and the stigmas associated with the topic. Amidst the clouds of uncertainty, a silver lining can be seen in the development of normalising mental health conversations to a large extent.
This live event marked the initiation of a two-month long fellowship campaign with BRAC CGSRHR, and BLAST. Join us, as we aim to disseminate the normalisation of mental health and shed light on the representation of genders in mass media in the context of gender based violence.