The Listening Circle is a peer support group for mental health users and survivors as well as another circle for caregivers. Chapters of The Listening Circle are active in East Delhi, North Delhi, and South Delhi. Bangalore is starting soon, in December 2018.
How Are We Different?
Although there are several examples of support groups scattered all over India and Delhi, ours is different in that we uniquely offer a non-hierarchical support group in every locality or district area without any moderation or interference by any clinical person, thereby removing the unequal power imbalance that arises from having such ‘experts’.
Support groups solve many issues. It not only gives the choice and right to the users/survivor and provides alternatives to therapy or clinical treatment, but also eventually moves towards removing the stigma surrounding mental health from society.
The Listening Circle is for a duration of two hours. One hour is introduction/rewinding. Second hour is different activities such as music session, art session, poetry session, etc; these can include all kinds of therapeutic sessions and also one-on-one discussions on any topic chosen by attendees or the moderator regarding certain common issues to which they seek peer to peer solutions.
One of our first projects has been an anthology of stories around mental health. The book is a collection of non-fiction, poetry and art that seeks to help affected people realise they are not alone; this book will be the voice to those nameless, faceless people living with mental health distress, and also show the often difficult task faced by caregivers. This book is in final stages of editing with our publisher, Women Unlimited and we are very excited about the launch of this book next year. This anthology was edited by Jhilmil Breckenridge and Namarita Kathait and will become a series, with an open call for submissions.
We believe in the healing power of reading, writing and art and we are committed to taking poetry and art into prisons and institutions. Why prisons, you may ask, as Bhor is a mental health initiative. Well, there is a deep intersectionality between incarceration and mental health; mental health issues pervade prisons and many other spaces. We are looking deeply at institutions and prisons because of the aspect of incarceration, and often creativity blooming, providing much needed catharsis. This work has been done successfully in many countries and it is time to start closer to home.