Published: 18th December 2019
This Kochi group conducts events for people can speak up about mental health without being judged
Soul As A Race, founded by busking poet Lady Lazarus conducts specially curated events, creating safe spaces for people to talk about mental health
Let's start talking about something that probably everyone around you is going gaga about. Modern Love, the anthology series that deals with love and everything about it. For those who are ardent followers like me (Spoiler Alert! if you haven't seen it yet), remember that moment where Anne Hathaway's Lexi opened up to Quincy Tyler Bernstine's Sylvia about being bipolar? If my opinion counts, this was one of the most heartwarming moments in the show. Did you wish that you had a Sylvia in your life; somebody who listens patiently without an iota of judgment and with whom you can comfortably open up to?
Though we can't guarantee you a Sylvia, we can introduce you to a group in Kochi that will positively provide you with curated events where you can talk about mental health and related issues without being judged. Meet Soul As A Race. The group is not more than three months old and has already conducted two specially curated events. And the members say that the feedback they have received from the participants was endearing and heartwarming. So, who are they and what do they do? We decided to find out. Soul As A Race is founded by poet Priya Varughese, who is popularly known as Lady Lazarus. The group provides non-medical support to people going through mental health issues and the members act as facilitators between the ones who seek help and the ones who provide help.
A busking poet, Priya tells us about how she often found strangers talking to her about deep and intense things going on in their life. "Most of them spoke to me about chapters in their life that are rather emotional. In fact, I felt that a lot of people were banking on me. So, I thought this was the right time to do something towards mental health," says Priya. "When your state of mind isn't right, your life bears the consequence and this has to be addressed. So, we thought of creating a space to discuss mental health without people feeling judged," she says, reminding us that one may need non-medical support or someone to talk to, apart from a therapist. "Different people have different things that make them happy and comfortable. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to mental health. Meditation may work for some and art may work for others. So, we thought of having several facets in our events," she adds.
Their pilot event was titled 'Into the Lighthouse' and was held on October 30. "Through that event, we tried to help people figure their 'lighthouse' out. Your lighthouse is basically your vision for your life sans mental blocks and limitations. That is something you're working towards. Here, every attendee goes back with their lighthouse or at least we spark a thought about their lighthouse," says Priya. Their second event was on building effective communication.
Priya doesn't organise these events single-handedly. She's got her team consisting of five other people — Lettisha LS, Ashfaque Ahmed, Akhil Mathew, Abhay Stephen and Jaiks Eapen — and a few volunteers. So what is it that pushes these young people towards the cause? "We make it a fact to not give medical advice. We facilitate a dialogue between people who require help and people who can provide that help," says Lettisha, who is a law student. "Whenever we plan our events, it's always fun and great conversing with these kind souls. At the end of the day, after a lot of high-density planning, we get people telling us that they were going back with a better state of mind. To influence a person's life like that is a great takeaway," she says.