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Promoting Mental Health Awareness in Collaboration with Maatram

Yuvabe team takes an inward journey to understand mental health issues, create awareness and become better support systems for their own loved ones.

yuvabe team creating a street play  to spread awareness about youth mental health

There are fewer things in life harder than having to constantly fight your own mind. Unlike physical illnesses, mental illnesses are hidden, insidious and many times go misunderstood and undiagnosed. Because of its invisible nature not many can witness these struggles of the mind and how it can overtake every aspect of our lives. And so, without anyone really noticing it, depression and many such mental health disorders have today become a massive global health issue.

In an attempt to foster dialogue on this difficult and misunderstood health issue, that is taking many young lives worldwide, including in Auroville’s Bioregion, Yuvabe joined hands with Auroville’s mental health service unit, Maatram, to create a play to be performed across nearby villages. 

For many in the Yuvabe team, this was the first experience of creating a performance. Under the guidance and with support of Rashmi, a counsellor from Maatram, we wrote the script, music, dialogues as well as acted in the play. The intention behind having inexperienced actors creating the play was also to explore theatre as a medium to aid in the mental wellbeing of the performers themselves. 

Yuvabe youth during a practise session for their play on Mental Health

The team created four storylines with characters that the community could relate to. The play tells the story of four people, from different walks of life, grappling with a similar darkness: Hopelessness, Loneliness and Depression. High school student Malar; overworked surgeon Santosh; a young engineer Bharathi, and an old farmer Murugan; all four people have reached a crossroads in life. A crossroads where they have to decide whether they want to choose life at all.

The process began with a sharing circle, where people opened up about their own experiences or being witness to other’s experiences of psychological pain and darkness. The initial exercises of introspection were meant to familiarise and make the team comfortable with the difficult emotions that the team was going to portray. 

Yuvabe team practising for the play at Kinisi's parking space

Through the process of creating this play, the team was pushed to become more accepting of discomfort, their own and that of other people. This entire journey had a lot of learnings for us, not just in the theatrical aspects but also in terms of our own personal, emotional health. 

Mental health is not just a personal issue, but a public health concern. Each life lost to despair is also a life of talent, dreams and aspirations that the world has lost. While there is a growing acceptance of this epidemic, there is still an aspect of shame attached to how people perceive mental illnesses, when it happens to us or our loved ones.  

At Yuvabe, we feel a systemic shift is needed in the way we in modern society live and work. It is about time we rebuild our connection to ourselves. We are extremely grateful to Maatram for this experience and opportunity.  This entire journey has been deeply transformative for all of us. Here are our top three learnings that we’d like to share:

  1. Mental Health is just as important as physical health

  2. We are not alone, there is help available and it is okay to ask; AND most importantly, 

  3. To be kind to others as we have no idea what people are dealing with in their personal lives

Let’s make mental health a priority, help us spread the word!

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