The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of people in several ways. Firstly, fear and anxiety about a disease which is new, and while coping with it the question what could happen can be overwhelming. This can lead to strong emotions in adults and children. Moreover, maintaining social distancing to prevent the disease can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase their stress and anxiety. Keeping in mind present situation, when people are struggling hard to deal with the unprecedented crisis, MONON, an initiative by government of Assam in collaboration with NHM, Assam is coming up with a couple of online competitions with the view to promote positivity among people of all age groups. One of them is a Mime and Poetry Competition which is conducted with the motto to render voice to the ones who are victims of domestic violence. The other one is “The Music Mania,” which aims at celebrating the beauty of life to mark the Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September. The initiative by MONON is an effort to spread awareness about mental health to ease off the hurdles and work in unity during this COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, they are seeking for enthusiastic response from every young and aspiring artist and creative mind from across the state of Assam to participate and uphold positivity in the ongoing critical situation.
MONON was launched on June 13th with the view to address the mental health issues of the people. During the initial period of lockdown, Assam police got distress calls from the people across the state concerning children issues and domestic violence cases. Soon after, they contacted the dept. of Psychiatry, GMCH to intervene and thus an initiative called ‘Prayash’ was introduced with a six member team led by Dr. Mythili Hazarika, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, Dept of Psychiatry, GMCH to address the problems of the people. Subsequently, with the overwhelming response from the people, the health department of the state came up with a tele-helpline. All the COVID-19 patients were provided counseling with the help of a proforma which include all their details. Later, apart from psychological issues, people began seeking help on other issues, including social and financial, which the team tried to address through communicating the relevant department. Speaking about the project, the coordinator of MONON and Senior Resident, Dept. of Psychiatry, GMCH Dr. Amlanjyoti Deb noted “The goal of this programme is to reach out to the people and address any mental health issue they are facing in this difficult time because for a person in the middle of a mental war, it is difficult for them to pick up their phones and reach out to people or professionals as it is usually expected. This is because the biological state of their mind does not allow them to initiate tasks which they well know themselves that might help them. This is why depressed people continue to stay inside and stay depressed or go on to commit suicide despite there being hundreds of helpline numbers. So, our motto is to reach out to people from our side itself and ask them if they have any issue and handle them in the best way possible.”
“The competitions we have organized will help people to utilize the time in the lockdown in constructive ways. These competitions, which are mostly based on various art forms, are a way of Catharsis. By expressing themselves through music or dance or painting, the children and other people can relieve themselves of any unspoken emotion or frustration that they might be harbouring. The project aims at destigmatizing Covid 19 illness and the issues pertaining to mental health. Our sincere gratitude to the hundreds of voluntary workers who are working without any material or personal benefit with the hope of bringing a difference in the society. Also, the workers of Sarathi 104 who are helping us to connect to hundreds and thousands of Covid patients and their families on a daily basis through night and day. These people are the unsung heroes who surely need mention in our endeavour,” he added.