The first in our series of women who advocate for mental health is a Hyderabad based Clinical Psychologist. We had the amazing fortune of meeting her at a workshop in Mumbai and realized the importance of continued consistent learning. Her organization, Pause for Perspective (@pauseforperspective) is always up to something creative – their recent addition is Pause Cafe.
Aarathi Selvan has worked in the area of Mindfulness and Mental Health and Wellness for the last 10 years and has conducted more than 100 Eight-week Mindfulness programs in Hyderabad and across the country. She manages a team of 16 psychologists at Pause for Perspective, a faculty member at St. Francis Degree College. She teaches, supervises and trains mental health professionals in the city of Hyderabad. She works and supervises in the area of mindfulness, trauma, couples work, queer affirmative counseling, and the intersectionality of mental health and marginalization.
Why did you start Pause for Perspective?
Sitting in the experience of a very isolating first few years of motherhood, after several years of study in psychology, I realized the importance of community for those who identify as women. A community of women for children, other women and families. Pause for Perspective was born from a hope for bringing together people to safe holding spaces where they can breathe, pour their hearts out, experience compassion and be affirmed to live in their preferred ways.
How do you stay motivated everyday?
Coming up with new ideas to be present for our community keeps me motivated. Implementing them teaches me all about patience and persistence. This is one of the firm ways in which work grounds me.
Now, working with a collective of 15 other women who come up with mind-blowing ideas for our community is one heck of a way to stay motivated and grounded!
How do you engage in self-care?
I meditate with my community, I teach mindfulness and it’s intersections with marginalization in order to remember to plant my feet within compassion, and loving kindness. I listen to my children talk-simple, wise and funny things, helps de-stress. I devour silence as much as I can. Quiet spaces fill my soul. I write, helps me reflect. All these are ways of self-care. Quite frankly work is also self care for me, as I see myself today -it’s ways in which I see myself do what is really important for me.
What concerns do you feel are unique to women’s mental health in India? And How do you think they can go ahead and take care of it?
Where do I start? Most women have the unique job of doing the emotional labor for the men in their lives. The oppression of single stories of how a woman should be in our Indian context is aplenty. The labor at the margins is excruciatingly real for minority cis women, queer people, trans women, trans men, gender non conforming people. Men and Privileged Cis Women, those in positions of power, of being privileged into a gender binary, heteronormative world need to think long and hard about their role (seen and unseen) in pushing people to the margins. We need to educate ourselves to learn to actively support those in the margins actively.
How can women better support other women?
We need to take a long and hard look at the singular stories of what makes a woman. We need to go beyond the gender binary, heteronormative definitions and ideas of womanhood. We need to look at ways in which our capitalist world isolates and learn to come together in tender ways towards ourselves and others.
What do you think the future of Mental Health in India looks like?
From the vantage point of a Mental Health worker where I stand, I see leaders emerging within the country who are advocates for mental health, intersectional mental health, I see ways in which we are already destigmatise and locating mental Illness within social injustices. This is important work. I can see that we are striving towards homegrown ways of working with diverse people within our communities. I see mental health starting to take importance in several spaces. More needs to be done and we are moving in this direction.