The annual movement, which sees the participation of individuals with mental health issues from different walks of life, began as a way of educating general public on subjects related to mental health. Inspired by the initiative that has spread to several countries since then, Chennai is also set to play host to its first ever Mad Pride walk on October 10, which is marked as the World Mental Health Day.
The Mad Pride is being held by city-based metal health NGO The Banyan, along with The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) and the Movement for Global Mental Health. Mrinalini Ravi, the co-lead at Sundram Fasteners Centre for Social Action and Research of BALM, says the walk is along the lines of pride parades by the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) community, in the way that it brings together people battling mental health issues, while making others aware of the subject. “The parade is aimed at social inclusion of those living with mental health issues. Mental health has an ostracised place in our society. Many assume that people with mental health issues are ‘looneys’ and ‘psychos’, and must be kept in hospitals; the aim of the parade is to throw light on various aspects of mental health and avoid negativity around the subject. The walk is to highlight that it is all right to have mental health issues. People shouldn’t be afraid of them,” asserts Mrinalini.
The maiden walk in the city is expecting the participation of about 300 people, including students and working adults from different fields. “There is a need for society to take responsibility when it comes to mental health of an individual, as it is dependent on various factors in the person’s life,” she adds. Those battling mental health problems can also share their personal stories during the walk, while those who have not experienced any can also join the parade to show their solidarity. “Awareness on the subject is very important,” adds Mrinalini.
The Mad Pride Parade will be held along Elliot’s beach on October 10 from 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm.