Taraki Talks with Arun Kapur
TarakĪ is a movement working to aid Punjabi communities in dealing with the difficulties of mental health. One of key areas of importance is that of awareness and increasing not only the understanding of mental health but the understanding of what services are there to help with it.
In this new multi-part series, we aim to bridge the gap between Punjabi communities and mental health activism by highlighting and profiling different individuals and local organisations working within the field. In doing so we hope to improve the accessibility to such services and progress the transparency around mental health within our culture.
The first interview is with Arun who has suffered with mental health issues and is aiming to help others by combining his passion for the arts with his work and opening a dialogue around the issue.
Hi, could you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and what you do?
My name is Arun Kapur, I am 28 years old of Punjabi descent. I am from Wolverhampton, and work as a duty manager for the Light House Media centre. As well as operating here, I also work freelance as a support artist for film and television, as well writing my own poetry and videography. Most of my creative work is combined with the support I offer within the mental health field. I aim to spread the word of raising awareness within mental wellbeing via a creative outlet. I myself have suffered massively with depression for many years from a young age and have always found it difficult at the best of times to find someone to reach out to. As I have gotten older, more resources have become available, and it is not considered as much as a taboo as it once was, but there is still plenty of work to do.
What are the aims you have for your work?
The key aims of my work are to raise awareness of the taboo surrounding mental health, specifically within South Asian communities, in which it is seen as a topic that should not be openly talked about. My main aim within my work is also to allow individuals to find a platform in order to reach out for support and get the help they needed.
What prompted you to work in mental health?
I was bullied from a young age, and did not always find the greatest of support, especially with it being the people within my own community that were the perpetrators. It made me feel more enabled to support my own people, giving guidance and educating towards thinking differently on the matter.
What do you think are the key barriers to Punjabi communities with regards to mental health?
Most of the thinking we have within the Punjabi communities are intergenerational. The elder generations were very much fixated on a different mind frame, in comparison to how the current generation might be thinking. Mental health within the Punjabi community is still seen as a ‘crime’ or something that should not be talked about, which is a massive barrier. The understanding of mental health is also not there because it has not been clearly addressed in the past.
How do you aim to change this situation?
I aim to change the situation by working alongside different organisations, and individuals to open up workshops, clubs and other social environments or one-to-one sessions in order to reach out, so we can all unite together and beat the stigmas that are still there.
What has been the highlight of your work so far in Punjabi mental health?
My highlight has been getting to know TarakĪ. They are doing absolutely everything within their power to bring support to the community and offered me a platform to try and target different age groups.
What have you found most difficult in this work?
I have found that not everyone wants to open up about how they feel, and they feel shameful for even thinking or feeling the way that they do, as if they have killed someone. I have found also some people do not understand and it makes it very difficult at times for those, like myself, who want to make a difference and get everyone involved.
How can people get involved?
People can get involve by contacting me privately, as someone who has suffered and continues to, I would like to be able to help guide others through a path of acceptance and understanding. People can also get involved by attending mental health-based workshops, meeting others from different lives and trying to understand each other. We are all one.
What is your vision for Punjabi communities in the future?
My vision for the future within the Punjabi communities are to no longer see mental health as a taboo, but to see it openly and be able to address it for what it is, not to make anyone feel like an outcast because they are suffering. My vision is to continue spreading the word of support, to see more communities helping each other, and to not be jealous or stigmatise each other.
Open Minds meets at the Light House on October 22nd for an informal gathering to discuss mental wellbeing with further details in the link below
You can follow Arun on Twitter @ArunKapur47
and follow his content on os own dedicated YouTube Channel
If you want to be involved with this multi-part series, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org