Roughly translated it means:
“Do not mention your solitude to others
you’re not the only one, everyone is lonely
this journey is difficult alone…”
These lines are from a longer poem for a film by Gulzar. Here he has beautifully articulated the pain of loneliness, saying we are all lonely. To me, it also means if we are lonely then why feel lonely? But that’s not how others think.
Do you know loneliness is one of the major causes of worldwide Depression today? A world full of information bombardment, over exposure to social media and virtual traffic jams exists parallelly with one of the worst evils of the 21st century – Depression. Yes, it is Depression, with a capital ‘D’
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease
- More women are affected by depression than men
- At its worst, depression can lead to suicide
“Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression…
Close to 8, 00, 000 people die due to suicide every year…
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15 – 29-year-olds…”
Having lost close family and friends to suicide and sharing the pain of friends during their Depression this news, however, did not fail to shock me. I was just not aware of the huge number of people who were helpless and trying to figure a way of dealing with Depression. It completely shook me out of ignorance.
WHO (World Health Organisation) gives us a simple solution – let’s talk.
In today’s world of self-imposed isolation mainly due to creation of unachievable goals through social media, we are gradually losing the ability to simply talk. If we do talk, it’s mainly about work, ambitions, goals, dreams, desires, targets, achievements, successes and money. Also, everything money could buy. We refrain from talking about pain, anguish, disparities, impoverishments, inequalities and other harsh realities of life. These realities always existed but now we have also created systems that make us appear more beautiful and desirable than we really are, making these realities seem way more painful than before.
These are just some reasons why Access & Inclusion are my primary concerns.
Don’t worry if you don’t get these words, even I had been initially clueless about the meanings of these words that I heard first in 2015 at the British Museum during a Fellowship there. I soon realised that I had been aware of their connotations but not these words themselves. They haven’t been around long, probably less than a decade. I’ll try to explain them below.
Once I began to be clear about them, I needed to understand how to practically apply these terms to Museums and Heritage Spaces. How do I address them through my work, especially in India? How else would I reach to people with Depression? And, their loved ones…
I started my research towards the causes of Depression and came upon a wide range of valuable information. These have helped me shape my perspective and work. If you are confused, it’s probably because I don’t think linearly due to the learning difficulties (LDs) I have. So, without judging me, I request you to kindly read on. Hope it won’t be disappointing!
Umpteen quizzical looks when I mention Access & Inclusion have made me write a series of posts dedicated entirely to this topic. Hence, I am taking you on my journey towards knowing about them, from the very beginning. It starts with the definitions of these words.
What is Access and Inclusion?
If we go by the Cambridge dictionary, then the two words Access and Inclusion are explained as:
Access: the method or possibility of getting near to a place or person
Inclusion: the idea that everyone should be able to use the same facilities, take part in the same activities, and enjoy the same experiences, including people who have a disability or other disadvantage
What is Accessibility?
- The principle of Accessibility aims to dismantle the barriers that hinder the enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities
- The issue concerns not just physical Access to places, but also
- Access to information,
- technologies, such as the Internet,
- communication, and economic and social life
WHO Access provisions:
- sufficiently large and unblocked corridors and doors
- the placement of door handles
- the availability of information in braille and easy-to-read formats
- the use of sign interpretation/interpreters
- and the availability of assistance and support can ensure that a person with a disability has Access to a workplace, a place of entertainment, a voting booth, transport, a court of law, etc.
- without Access to information or the ability to move freely, other rights of persons with disabilities are also restricted
International agencies working with Depressed people have a unique request.
We are being implored to be empathetic and not sympathetic.
Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from their point of view, rather than from your own. You try to imagine yourself in their place in order to understand what they are feeling or experiencing.
as defined by: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/empathy
I came across these two projects which boosted my confidence.
- Heritage in Hospitals research project…2008-2011… 300 patients in various hospital and care settings
- Led to a collaboration between 20 museums and other organisations (including the British Museum, and the Worcester Infirmary Museum) to:
- develop a new measure which museum staff now use to assess the effect on wellbeing of participation in museum activities, and
- to train volunteers in object-handling
- One patient said: “I can’t listen to pop music at the moment because it reminds me of certain situations that I’m in and having to deal with, whereas this sort of stuff gets you thinking, but because it’s 5,000 years old… you can’t be depressed by looking at a piece of Egyptian pottery, doesn’t work that way.”
- Researchers at University College London in the UK found a clear link between the frequency of ‘cultural engagement’ and the chances of someone over 50 developing depression
- The study is the first to show that cultural activities not only help people manage and recover from depression but can actually help to prevent it
In the next post, I will talk about my experience and learning as a Nehru Trust Fellow to the British Museum and the V&A in 2015.