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Gender And Mental Health – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Event Report
Reetwika Mallick

The Gender Impact Studies Center, at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a three-day immersive Online Certificate Training Course on ‘Gender and Mental Health’ from February 13 to February 15, 2024.

The chair of the program was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Distinguished Professor, IMPRI.

Convenors of the program were Dr Arjun Kumar Director, IMPRI, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO & Editorial Director, IMPRI, Prof Gummadi Sridevi, Visiting Professor, IMPRI.

Day 1:  Understanding the Landscape of Mental Health

Professor Vibhuti Patel set the tone of the training course by discussing the gendered dimension of mental health in the first session of the course. Prof. Patel enumerated the differences in experiencing psychological stress between men, women and sexual minorities. Prof. Patel highlighted the increase in vulnerability of mental health challenges of certain groups of women.

The session outlined the hindrance of lack of state funding in fighting against mental illness risks. Acknowledging the crucial role played by family in the overall human well-being, Prof. Patel mentioned how the interim budget recognized mental health as a social problem.

Dr. M Manjula, taking the session forward, explained the concept of mental wellbeing. She listed down the risk factors of deteriorating mental wellness among women. Dr. Manjula explored reproductive mental well-being in the session. She reiterated the importance of incorporating mental and physical health across the life cycle.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

The session by Dr. Aparna Joshi delved into making mental health gender sensitive. Dr. Joshi navigated the intricate concepts of Mental well-being, Mental health, Well-being, Quality of life, Coping, Resilience, Recovery, Psychosocial Disability, Distress and Mental illness.  Dr. Joshi addressed the crucial issue of gendered understanding of mental health.

Dr. Joshi, untangled the complex research theories on gender and mental health in the session. Dr. Joshi emphasized on gender sensitive mental healthcare acknowledging gender affecting the access to mental care. Dr. Joshi shed light on the national mental healthcare program of India. Focussing on bio-medical needs, incorporating an understanding of gender and ensuring training of mental health professionals were some of the ways forwards that Dr. Joshi discussed in the session in ensuring better access and treatment of mental illness.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

The session led by Dr. Meenu Anand stressed upon women and mental health from a bio-psycho-social perspective. Defining mental health, Dr. Anand quoted that “mental health is too important to be limited to mental health professionals”. She distinguished the terms sex and gender, explaining both the terms. The session delved into the roles that women are expected to perform by the patriarchal society.

Dr. Anand explained the positive impact of looking at mental well-being from a gendered lense on society as a whole. She underlined how gender makes one vulnerable towards developing certain mental health conditions. Discrimination against a particular group in society increases the risk of social exclusion and economic adversity, both of which undermine mental health.

Dr. Anand shared eye-opening statistics from the mental health report 2022, highlighting the poor condition of infrastructure towards building better mental health among people across countries. Discussing the impact of Covid-19, on mental health, Dr. Anand emphasized the increased need for improving mental healthcare services. Dr. Anand highlighted greater emphasis needs to be placed on addressing women’s mental illness due to more stigma attached towards women affected by Mental Illnesses.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Day 2: Challenges and Strategies

Professor Vibhuti Patel began the session with insightful introductory remarks on the intricate interconnectedness of gender dynamics and mental well-being. Prof. Patel highlighted a more inclusive framework in navigating mental health journeys. She explained the AMIC approach as an inclusive methodology of understanding mental well-being. Prof. Patel unraveled the biases within the field of mental health.

 Dr. Cicilia Chettiar, the speaker for the session addressed transforming women’s mental health discourse by embracing and acknowledging intersectionality. Dr. Chettiar critiqued the gendered biasness of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and suggested alternative theories of understanding.

Dr Chettiar provided a nuanced perspective on how an individual’s diverse roles and societal expectations intersect. She questioned the established norms exposing the biases within the academic and clinical realms. The need for an empathetic and nuanced approach in understanding women’s mental well-being is the need of the hour, Dr Chettiar explained.

 To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Prof. Anuradha Sovani provided a holistic perspective of complexities of mental health, on day 2 of the course. Prof. Sovani challenged the binary perspective of mental well-being as healthy and unhealthy. She enumerated the intricacies involving neurotransmitters, hormones, genetics, and brain dysfunction. She provided a comprehensive definition of mental health involving biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.

Prof. Sovani underlined the importance of a comprehensive approach towards mental well-being. Her insights bridged the gap between theoretical discussions and real-world applications, emphasizing the need for tailored interventions that consider the unique experiences of women.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

The insightful session of Prof. Mala Ramanathan addressed the issue of socio-cultural complexities in women’s mental well-being. Prof. Ramanathan commenced the session underscoring the critical role of systemic issues in the context of women’s mental well-being. Systemic issues aids in creating a supportive environment for women’s mental health. Prof. Ramanathan emphasized on an action-oriented approach towards addressing mental well-being disparities.

Prof. Ramanathan undertook a life-cycle approach examining the journey from genetic inheritance to environmental stresses. Prof. Ramanathan stressed upon fostering a culture of mental well-being upon society. Prof. Ramanathan in her session interlinked societal factors with mental well-being.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Day 3: Action and Advocacy

Professor Vibhuti Patel explored a gender sensitive approach towards mental health in the session for day 3. Prof. Patel provided a multifaceted notion of mental well-being considering the societal determinants in mental well-being. She discussed the challenges in the bio-medical model of understanding mental health. Prof. Patel underlined the impact of patriarchal structures on the mental well-being of women.

Sensitization of media, an important societal organization, is necessary according to Prof. Patel in order to restore good mental health. She called for greater diversity and sensitivity in media portrayals of mental health issues, highlighting the potential of media to challenge stigma, raise awareness, and promote understanding.

Prof. Patel explained the intricate connection between mental well-being and social determinants such as socio-economic status. In the session, Prof. Patel also addressed the mental distress on women caused due to non-recognition of women’s autonomy on their reproductive health. Prof. Patel reiterated throughout the session, the need for adopting a gender-responsive approach to mental well-being promotion and intervention policy.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

The profound issue of gender difference in psychological counseling was addressed by Dr. Varudhini Kankipati. Dr. Kankipati outlined the importance of gender dynamics within mental health practices, mentioning the challenges faced in accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and equitable care provision due to gender biases. A core tenet of Dr. Kankipati’s address was the imperative of creating gender-inclusive therapeutic spaces

Acknowledging the diverse individual needs of people, Dr. Kankipati emphasized on creating a tailored approach in accordance to the unique needs for addressing mental well-being issues. Strengths based approach, according to Dr. Kankipati accommodates the clients’ self-realisation thereby leading to a transformative change. Dr. Kankipati explored several other concrete strategies for integrating gender sensitivity into mental well-being practice.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Ms. Sangeeta Rege enlightened the session by addressing the impact of gender based violence on mental healthcare. She highlighted the importance of acknowledging the diverse experiences of individuals suffering violence, and moving beyond the socially acceptable gender binary. . Ms. Rege emphasized the critical importance of integrating gender-sensitive approaches into the training curriculum.

Ms. Rege underlined the significance of adopting an approach that accommodates the unique psychological needs of survivors. She shared strategies that can be adopted to ensure trauma-informed care and survivor-centered interventions. In the session the challenges faced by the survivors of the violence were discussed. The First Line Support model of support to survivors was introduced by Ms. Rege.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Acknowledgment: Written and posted by Reetwika Mallick, intern at IMPRI.

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