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La Lloreria – A Courageous Effort at Demolishing All Mental Health Stigma

In a project to end all sorts of mental health stigma, Spain brings to you La Lloreria or the crying room, a place where you can freely express your sorrow. With alarming statistics and no major mental health awareness programs, it’s high time India learned and implemented something from this project since the government was seen spending about 345 million rupees to celebrate International Yoga Day.

On World Mental Health Day, October 10, Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister announced a 100-million-euro, mental health care program which includes services like a 24-hour suicide helpline. While launching the program, he also said, “It is not a taboo, it is a public health problem that we must talk about, make visible and act accordingly.” How empathetic and progressive of the PM! Crazy, that a basic human amenity – mental health being publicly accepted is supposed to decide whether someone is progressive or not.

Credits: Paul White

The Crying Room is set to break all stigmas related to mental health, crying, and asking for help. Being so public and open to all, one thing is for sure – the taboo attached with crying and seeking help shall surely reduce. It is located in Central Madrid and is open to all. Some signs read “Enter and Cry” and “I too have anxiety” in pink. There is also a phone corner with the names of psychologists and others, a person can call when they feel blue.

Martyna Dluzniewska, Head of Marketing at Therapy Chat, explained that the idea of ‘La Lloreria’ did come from the Spanish phrase “a llorar a la lloreria” (go and cry in the crying room), essentially chastising people for having feelings, something very similar to what us, Indians are used to doing and receiving. This program is not that of a precautionary one, instead, the Government data revealed that about 3,761 people died by suicide in Spain in 2019 making it the 2nd most common cause of death after natural causes and about 5.8% of the total population suffer from anxiety. One in ten teenager has been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Credits: REUTERS

One may question the need for a specially built crying room when you can just go into your room and cry for days; something we have all been doing quite diligently since our adolescence days to which the answer is awareness, transparency, and solidarity. More and more people need to be actively involved in creating a healthy and safe space for others, to be better listeners and to learn the art of fraternity. Educational institutions, the state, and the society, collectively must learn, teach and adapt to create a better, inclusive space for all humans, with all their flaws, disorders, and syndromes, equally loved.

Unfortunately, that safe space is a far-fetched dream for Indians since no major mental health awareness programs were established. About 800,000 people die of suicide worldwide and according to WHO, suicide is an emerging and serious public health issue, in India. In 2019, about 32.4% of suicides were due to family problems and about 35.1% of suicides in India were seen among the age groups of 18-30. The NCRB 2019 also reported 10,281 deaths in the farming sector in India. About 56 million Indians suffer from depression and another 38 million suffer from anxiety. The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 does aim to provide mental healthcare and services to citizens but the lack of accountability and responsibility on the state’s part suggests a disinterest in addressing India’s mental health crisis.

India, in all its secular culture and majestic riots, brings equally corrupt citizens to the table. India has one psychiatrist for every 100,000 people meaning that it has a shortage of about 18,000 doctors. India had allocated 528 billion rupees in 2018 for the healthcare budget and yet only 50 million rupees was spent annually on mental health, so about 33 paise per mental health patient if we take the 150 million people that require urgent care, said an article in The Diplomat. It also mentioned that the amount spent was “a day’s expense of a trip abroad by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi” and “is also almost half the one-day cost of running a parliament session.

Juhi Salim is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Reda Aamna

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Written by Juhi Salim

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