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Mutual Aid Social Therapy: How to Build Mutual Aid Communities in Society for Mental Well Being?

Mutual aid is a radical and collective approach that is participatory and includes the voluntary sharing of resources, skills, and ideas. It has been popularised by an anarchist philosopher - Peter Kropotkin. He emphasizes collaboration and cooperation, not competition, as the driving mechanism behind evolution. And believes that communities worldwide survive when they support each other as a collective without fighting with each other. The best examples of mutual aid that one can recollect are during disasters - natural or man-made, where people come together and support the distressed in different ways.

Mutual Aid Social Therapy

Born from the concept of mutual aid, Mutual Aid Social Therapy is an approach in the mental health domain, where people can discover deep-rooted beliefs, issues and biases by self and social reflection, supported by the collective power. According to the Jane Adam collective, Mutual Aid Self/Social Therapy should be practised as a triad. People self-reflect on issues, discuss with their MAST partner, and get another person's perspective in the triad. This process may help people understand the causation behind their behaviour in different situations in society. But, one must remember that MAST is not an alternative to traditional therapy. It acts like an additional emotional support tool for a person to better navigate life's challenges.

Inclusion in the Mental Health Space

One of the most essential benefits of MAST is to foster community support in society. Suppose members within a community form groups of three and support each other emotionally and mentally. In that case, it will help foster a resilient community. This community would be inclusive through mutual respect. These groups of three, called a triad, will have one person play the role of a narrator and the other two as supporters. The supporters help the narrator understand the cognitive biases and thought processes responsible for a particular emotional behaviour. In this way, people interchangeably take the role of narrator and supporters to solve each other's emotional issues.

The modern narrative usually emphasizes individual growth and self-support. But, it is imperative to understand and cherish the power of the collective. Peer support groups, collaborative communities should be encouraged more to foster a healthy and buoyant society.

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