After having worked with non-profit organisation Banyan Tree for over eight years, Chennai-based Kamala Easwaran and her husband Yog Japee decided to establish Sumunum Arts and Wellbeing. This social enterprise is focused on improving health and well-being through art-based interventions, and thus address the gaps of accessibility and affordability to mental health.
Calling art-based interventions ‘transformative,’ Kamala shares that visual arts, music, drama, rhythm and movement, are powerful tools that can bring about a difference in the mindsets of people, especially when they are younger. It also helps to channelise pent-up emotions, paving the path towards recuperation and recovery.
Sumunum offers therapeutic conversations (for individuals and groups) by trained mental health professionals that help to tackle stressors in daily life. They also have tailor-made interventions to serve vulnerable populations that are focused on improving personal, occupational and social functioning.
According to Kamala, theatre is a powerful tool for improving mental health, which is why it is used as part of their interventions. Their initiative, Udaan, in collaboration with Tata Trusts, weaves together individual and collective experiences of distress and recovery, as experienced by people with mental health issues from vulnerable groups.
Kamala believes that the pandemic has brought mental health needs across sharper focus, but there is a long way to go. In these times of distress, Sumunum has also launched a COVID-19 telephonic support line to help manage uncertainty and promote well-being.
Interviewed by Geetika Sachdev, Video edited by SivaPrasad Dokku