The topic of mental health is easily dismissible in India. Our childhoods revolved around discussions of “Who will get to the finish line first?”, rather than “Who will get to the finish line in their own time, happy, and content?”
It was also evident that mental well being was perceived differently for different genders. Young boys were explicitly instructed that they are not meant to cry as it’s a sign of weakness and vulnerability. What they were never informed was that those two traits are not shameful –– what is shameful is that they were made to believe otherwise.
The BoyTalk Project is an initiative by the Aangan Trust, an NGO that works to “ensure that vulnerable children are safe, supported & assured of lives free from trafficking, early marriage, labour, abuse & exploitation”. The project is a simple and easily understandable resource for boys to open up about topics of mental health, gender, trauma, and healing. It is not simply done through encouragement, but rather through information — what are the basic terms one should know? Which person’s role can impact my mental health? Are there any examples I could look up to?
Shattering stereotypes is not easy and one always needs a guiding hand –– the BoyTalk project is just that. It is about normalising what already ought to be normal, including mental health care for all, the choice of being ‘different’ from what Indian society expects you to be, and how to deal with powerful incidents from the past.
The BoyTalk project is what India needs. It feels like the beginning of a long and hard battle against our own society and the way it functions, but a start is a start, and we could not be more thankful for it.
Find The BoyTalk Project here.
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