Mental health NGO Sangath’s ‘It’s Ok To Talk’ youth campaign launched the ‘Mann Mela’, a first-of-a-kind multimedia pop-up museum, at the Goa Open Arts Festival in Goa from February 13 to 16. The museum will now travel to Bhopal, Imphal, New Delhi and Mumbai and will serve as a mental health resource for individuals and organisations.
‘Mann Mela’ or festival of the mind, is a traveling museum comprised of interactive projects and artefacts, created using a “playful juxtaposition of arts, technology and science”. These projects and artefacts reflect the experiences of people with mental health needs, told through the components of the museum.
Pattie Gonsalves, who leads the project, said, “In sharing our stories with others, we find comfort, strength, hope and often, solidarity. While the circumstances, timelines and details may differ, the stories of our dreams, desires, relationships and struggles invariably coincide. Through Mann Mela, we aim to highlight that mental health is one of our most important human assets and helps us navigate the world around us,” said Gonsalves.
Last year on World Mental Health Day on October 10, Facebook had launched a ‘Let’s Talk’ filter on Facebook and Messenger to help people have important conversations around mental health and had globally recognised Sangath’s ‘It’s Ok to Talk’ campaign. “We were recognised among other institutions to help build more space for young people,” said Gonsalves.
Building awareness about mental health is at the heart of the Mann Mela, she added. The project continues to search for individuals with different experiences, help-seeking and recovery stories that challenge the stigma and negative attitudes about mental health.
The exhibits featured at the Goa Open Arts Festival were among some of the interactive portraits by Mann Mela of people across India. “Through a process of identifying and interviewing contributors, identification of themes from their stories, and finally, the design and creation of interactive exhibits, we bring ‘Dear Diary’ and ‘A Day in My Life’,” said Gosalves.
Drawing from the stories of a young woman and a non-binary gender-identifying person, these are the first of many stories the Mann Mela museum will create over the course of the year.
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