A few weeks ago, I came across a great concept that was very simple and brilliant at the same time. It was during my visit to Delhi to address a gathering of Rotatarians at the Rotary Club of Central Delhi. It was a great session where I had the good fortune of interacting with a big group of passionate Rotatrians who i am sure will come up with some great philanthropic projects under the dynamic leadership of DG Deepak Gupta. One of the key highlights during my visit was the inauguration of a HAPPY CLINIC in a Gurdwara in Rajouri Garden. Happy Clinics are aimed at helping people who need help with various mental and psychological disorders. 

It is a known fact that in India we have a huge shortfall of certified mental health professionals. A recent report in Deccan Chronicle observed that as per the Union Ministry of Health, India has only 7,075 doctors to cater to the mental health needs of our total population of 134 crore. This is a very serious concern, considering the way our lifestyle in cities like Bangalore is leading to stress, alcoholism, drugs, domestic violence, impotency, depression, suicide etc. It is in this context that I see Happy Clinics as a great idea that can be emulated all across the country by thousands of religious and spiritual organisations.

A Gurdwara is a place of worship and for it to become a place for mental healing for our citizens is indeed a commendable step. For ages places of worship regardless of religion,  have played a limited role in terms of positively affecting the communities around them. By limiting themselves to activities like food distribution and the occasional religious gatherings, spiritual centres are yet to use their full potential to create social change. Happy Clinics are just a start; the underutilised space available in almost all TEMPLES, CHURCHES, GURUDWARAS, MONASTERIES, MOSQUES, etc. can be used more efficiently in terms of creating and sustaining such unique initiatives.

Mental health is something that needs our collective attention and action, but there are hundreds of other areas where our urgent action is also needed as individuals. It was heartening to read a news article about how an NGO is working with destitute women and mentally-challenged people to recycle the floral waste from temples into organic colours, incense sticks and compost. There are many such instance out there. It’s only a matter of going past the spiritual template of food distribution and doing the bare minimum. Places of worship in almost all religions were meant to bring people together as a community and therefore it is only fair that spiritual centres in our country take on this role for ringing in social change by reinventing themselves. 

As a student of Psychology, this is something I deeply care about and i would like to see happen in the communities around us. I hope you too can spread the word about this to create more awareness and eventually create a mass social movement for change.