“Mental Health depends on the maintenance of balance within the personality between the basic human urges and egocentric wishes on one hand and the demands of the conscience and society on the other hand”- Selma Fraiberg.
The Peer Counselling Workshop for Queers and Allies (PCWQA’ 16) aimed at providing guidance on the basics of peer counseling for LGBTIQ issues, could gather 30 participants with in various hues of the rainbow spectrum and allies from different cross-sections of the society including psychiatry, forensic medicine, law, journalism, teaching, scientific research, free thinking, policy making etc. The two day training, with fun-filled interactive sessions, games and surprises, led by Thaddeus Alfonso, a noted mental health professional gave the participants insights on basic counseling skills, Keys to Maintaining Good Mental Health, Person-Centered Therapy (PCT) and related goals and techniques, common mental health issues faced by queer community, associated risk factors etcetera. A session by Deepa Vasudevan, the founder of Sahayatrika, threw light on the history of queer movement in Kerala and the yesteryear challenges faced by community members in Kerala. She also shared the best practices followed by Sahayatrika, in terms of workshops on Gender Justice and collation with other human rights movements in the state.
As community members, specially the minority within the minority in the rainbow spectrum shared their unrepresented experiences and struggles of survival being queer, participants could ablaze themselves with better understanding on the surging necessity to stand for the human rights of queer folk besides having clear notions on the common mental health problems faced by the same, be it anxiety, depression, fear of rejection, trauma and the causes and effects. While the Session by Prof. Shankar Ganesan, sparked moments of laughter as the veteran academician taught how observation is essential while one takes up the role of a peer counselor; a session by Jijo Kuriakose, Founder member of Queerala, brought forward how Queerala, from an online Q-support group emerged as a functioning organization.
As the two day program, where the participants could get new friends and share warmth of rainbow concord, got wrapped a bunch of empowered beings, who could potentially pledge their human resource to function as peer counselors for the LGBTIQ community were identified and would hopefully be given a follow up workshop on next levels of counseling.