Mental healthcare is non-existent for LGBTQI community in India: Keshav Suri

One of the deadliest mental health disorder, depression has been on a rise, especially among the LGBTQI community. Keshav Suri, in an event, spoke of the mental health issues faced by members of the community.

Written by Sukanya Nandy | New Delhi | Updated: September 6, 2018 6:43:03 pm

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The word depression in itself is terrifying. One of the deadliest mental health disorder, it has been on a rise, especially among the LGBTQI community. The youths in particular face a lot of challenges. Be it schools, colleges and even their own homes, they have to strive hard for acceptance and often fall victim to intolerance and abuse. Understandably, the effect on their mental and physical health is profound.

Earlier this year, Keshav Suri, executive director, The Lalit Group and a strong advocate of LGBTQI rights collaborated with Dr Prasad Raj Dandekar, founder of HPQI (Health Professionals for Queer Indians) in order to create mental healthcare awareness. During the event, Suri spoke of how crucial mental health care is for the LGBT community, “Over the years, I have realised that mental healthcare is non-existent for LGBTQI people in this country. It is yet another of the initiatives from our #PureLoveCampaign and we want to tell people we are here to support them and spread the message of love.”

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Depression among LGBTQIA is a rising problem

Creating awareness is one of the solution to this problem, says Bhubhaneswar-based psychiatrist, Dr Amrit Pattojoshi. “Firstly, we have to see what causes depression. If I consider myself not normal, then how will the society perceive me?” It’s also a matter of one’s own perspective. So one has to change their own mindset.

Making everybody comfortable, whether a person is gay or lesbian is equally important. “When a parent knows about their child’s sexuality, they are sometimes unable to accept the truth. Many a time, they come to a psychiatrist, thinking they will cure their child of the problem. But we are trying to make everyone aware that it is a normal thing and is not a disease or problem”, says Dr Pattojoshi.

Depression is also related to how others perceive an individual who is coming out as gay, lesbian or transgender. “Coming out is a very personal experience and one needs to consider many factors like what is the mental health of the individual and who is he going to talk to. For example, if it’s his parents, are they amenable to receiving that information? If he comes from a very conservative family, the fear of his parent’s rejection may take a toll on his mental health”.

Hence, such individuals with the help of healthcare professionals, need to deal with it together and make a proper plan. LGBT community first needs the support of a medical professional or if they are in school or college, they need the support of an authority. Every school should have a counselor where students can come out and talk about their problems. And once an authority figure, who remains unbiased in such situations, stands behind a victim, then a lot is sorted.

When a parent says my son is gay, the reaction of a teacher or psychiatrist should be “so what” and not “what!”. That makes the difference. And if that individual is going through depression, it’s better to start treating it at an early stage.

After people become aware about the individual’s sexuality, they need to acknowledge it. “From the point of a healthcare professional, the way to deal with a depressed patient is to start talking to the patient. Once you diagnose that the person is going through depression there are two things we need to do — one is to treat the depression with pharmacotherapy or medication. There has to be a plan in action that how many months would you treat or temper those medications. That will help the individual immediately to reach a level where he/she will become a little comfortable”.

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“When a person is severely depressed, no amount of counselling helps. They are not in the mental frame of mind to undergo counselling, to understand and follow. After few weeks of pharmacotherapy, the person will become amenable for therapy and then the counseling session should start. We, then, refer the patient to a trained counselor, who can help him through the problem and overcome it”.

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