“Suno” – Breaking Stereotypes About Mental Illness

The best thing about theatre is that it has a limited audience but all the more larger impact from powerful impact and message delivered from a small act. ‘Suno!’ is another strong act being performed at the Arts Council these days, which throws light on one of the most common issues of our society, depression and mental disturbance.
The Dawood Foundation in support with Taskeen [an initiative of the Pakistan Association for Mental Health (PAMH), Humanity Initiative and CareforHealth] have together presented this play for their audience which presses on the request to listen to the people with issues of such like, with patience, humility and eagerness to cure it.
Unfortunately our society doesn’t recognize mental illness in its first stage and when it does,  it’s treatment is considered a taboo by many, including the family itself.  People consider it a shame and often resort to sub standard ways to cure it which further aggravates the situation at times and instead of healing, the patient often goes more into seclusion then never. We forget that a family’s love and ability to just listen to his problems is itself the start of a cure.

The theatre is directed by film maker Hamza Bangash and had started showing at the council from the 27th of April till 30th.
The story is a real life inspiration enactment of a young boy with bipolar attitudes due to the daily chaos that went by in his family, his father’s rigid behaviour who could lash out one time and be all cheery the other. As the boy develops this attitude intensely and goes aloof from his friends and family, nobody realizes what’s going on and doesn’t want to listen to what he is trying to say.

An attempt on his life by himself, causes the family to shudder completely and as usual assistance from a psychiatrist was considered a shameful thing. After a lot of drama and substandard methods for treatment, he is finally sent to the rehab, which becomes a matter of embarrassment for the family, because sighs!  That’s what our society is like..

Overall the act was great, actors did their part powerfully, emotions were raised and a great message delivered but the storyline had jumps in it, like the opening act should have known more clearly why the boy started behaving the way he did, that would have set an intense image on the audience.
I believe families with such environments where daily arguments,  beatings are regular, it’s not just that sending the patient away to a rehab would be enough, the whole family needs to transform their behavior and inject love and respect in their house so the patient would heal naturally in such an environment.

Speaking about the initiative, Sabrina Dawood, CEO, The Dawood Foundation said: “Mental illness requires compassion, empathy and understanding. It is a human condition and requires us to be humane. It is not a condition from which only a few suffer. The trauma and violence that we as a society are enduring due to terrorism and natural disasters, are taking their toll. While the scars of the body are visible and heal; those in the mind remain unresolved and fester. It is for this reason that The Dawood Foundation believes it is crucial to support initiatives such as this, which reduce the amount of suffering caused by lack of knowledge.”

We need such initiatives and awareness programs for the betterment of our society. Situations around us are growing intense causing our minds to lose the composure, but we need to break from the clutter and sit down to atleast listen to the other persons problems and if need be, even consult therapy, which in no way is an act of shame, doesn’t mean you’re crazy, just that at times talking out loud about your problems can at times resolve the matter. Talking helps and we must listen!

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