BEYOND STIGMA – YOUR MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS.
The World Health Organization defines Mental Health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
Well, in the contemporary world that is stricken by raging wars, fighting plagues, and surviving through a terrific pandemic, reaching this state of mental health seems more unlikely than ever.
An alarming (but not surprising) rate of individuals today are finding it difficult to maintain these parameters with ease. As someone has remarked, ‘The only journey is the journey within' and this 'journey’ of being mentally at peace with oneself seems to have rounded up at a more grueling roundabout than ever.
On the traditional front, we have always had a particular notion surrounding ‘a healthy person’ as someone who is fit and fine in what most consider to be concerning just the physical aspect of health.
The mental aspect of the signature definition of ‘healthy’ is often neglected and subjugated by a greater part of the Indian population that does not even regard mental health as something that is viable, something that exists.
Let us take a look at some statistics sourced from NDTV that will follow up on the same:
· WHO states that the mental health workforce in India is not up to the mark and there is a huge shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists in the country as compared to the number of people suffering from mental health issues.
· WHO also estimates that about 7.5 per cent Indians suffer from some mental disorder. According to the numbers, 56 million Indians suffer from depression and another 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders. These numbers are surely bound to rise given the circumstances.
· In a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, it was revealed that 9.8 million teenagers in the age group 13-17 years suffer depression and other mental health disorders and are “in need of active intervention.”
These alarming statistics show the grim reality that we have a long way ahead. So many people are not even aware that they may be suffering from some form of mental health issue.
Such widespread stigma around mental health has often made people succumb to their circumstances disallowing them to find a reasonable and effective way around channelizing it.
This grim lack of awareness has also given way to a wide lack of resources needed to deal with the same.
Even in our so called progressive urbane society, we see people hesitating to come forward to take professional help owing to the fact that a wide range of factors are associated with it, some of which are as following:
· People, especially young teenagers who are dependent on their parents often do not know the right way around finding a safe space to seek expert help on what they are going through, especially when their family atmosphere is uncomfortable and seemingly non-reliable.
· Considering how expensive and complex these consulting services can be, most people either just give up the thought or only go so far as to banking on that one advisor friend of theirs, rendering themselves unaware of the fact that friendly advises are unregulated, naïve, and definitely insufficient.
· Traditionally constructed norms around seeking help as a sign of “weakness” lead one to believe that what they are experiencing is normal and that they should be stoic enough to deal with it on their own.
Rightly acknowledging all these issues on a social, economic, and emotional level,18-year-old Ananya Jain identified the need for a ground-breaking platform that can find a way through these numerous obstacles.
These problems as recognized by Ms. Jain needed a more approachable way around, served on a level that is both professionally effective as well as efficient enough so far as reaching the masses go.
She realized the ever-increasing significance of keeping a check on the mental health of everyone and indomitably came up with her endeavor to make a positive difference on the same.
Hence the genesis of ‘Beyond Stigma’, a platform designed to be able to connect those who seek any form of mental health guidance with those best suited to provide it to them in the most efficient manner possible. ____________________________________________________________________
The idea to come up with such a platform was something that did not stem solely from the will to help people in general, rather it was greatly influenced by a more personal need of the same that was being recognized time and again by those who care for their near and dear ones.
The foundation of this organization, as a result, also undeniably proved that such means of help had been greatly sought after.
GOAL: Beyond Stigma started out with the initial goal that was as simple as providing help to people during the covid pandemic.
Having been part of a social group that was finding it difficult to keep in tune with their emotional and mental peace of mind, Ms. Jain could not help but wonder how many more people out there were suffering, without getting the help required.
Beyond Stigma aims at giving the people that help in the most efficient and philanthropic way possible providing absolutely free services without any money-making aspect attached.
EXECUTION: The team was able to forge connections with various mental health practitioners via LinkedIn, often communicating with them through cold mails.
Acquaintances with people from the field also helped in getting professionals onboard. Volunteers too came up through social media platforms to invest their time towards this cause which helped in a swift setup of Beyond Stigma and its services.
It should be noted that all these psychologists are certified mental health practitioners. Since the time the website has been launched, the thread of links has grown up to a good amount.
FUTURE: Since the establishment of this platform, the objective has remained the same – to act as a safe space for people looking forward to getting help.
Keeping in mind the primary objective of reaching as many people as possible, Beyond Stigma has been working swiftly to grow their outreach, spread to other areas - local and global and reach their goal of breaking the taboo against mental health.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Beyond Stigma has substantially reached approximately five hundred people till now, helping them in receiving free mental health aid. On and off the work has been ongoing to reach as many more people as possible.
PROCEDURE: HOW IT WORKS
· Choosing a therapist - Clients have the autonomy to go through Beyond Stigma's team of certified mental health experts and find their right match.
· Booking a session - They may then book an appointment by choosing their preferred date, time and form of communication which may be carried out through zoom, call or email.
· Beginning therapy - Having got connected with their chosen mental health expert, clients can then begin their therapy.
SECURING ANONYMITY: One of the most crucial features of Beyond Stigma is the fact that clients have the full right to remain anonymous at any point in time of their consultation.
This helps to rule out any sort of apprehension that an individual may have around going out of the way and seeking help. It also allows people with orthodox families to remain comfortable while seeking help and not be worried about any sort of consequence as to what might happen if someone finds out about this.
Surely with time as we progress, these taming ways and unreasonable barriers will be out of the path leading to a more liberated society and a happier one too.
BLOG POSTS: While there has been constant work being done to provide these services, the team of Beyond Stigma has also curated on the side-line, a blog post that allows one to go through detailed information on several mental disorders like Mood Disorders, Eating Disorders, Personality Disorders and so on.
The in-depth analysis provided on these illnesses helps the clients to understand their situation and further guide them on their apprehensions following which they can seek out help with more clarity.
They also maintain a healthy blog which readers can tend to, to remain in check of their mental health. These are based on important topics like Body Positivity, Self-Care, Communication Skills, among others.
Here are some responses shared by people who reached out to Beyond Stigma for help:
"I am not going to lie, I was very afraid of taking the big step of actually seeking help for my mental health issues and letting someone else in on my problem, but right after my first session at Beyond Stigma I felt at peace with my issues and myself. I knew that this is the beginning of something new for myself.”
“After taking a trial session I realized that up until now, I had unknowingly made my best friend my psychologist, which is wrong on so many levels. After talking to the psychologists and realizing the reason behind everything that I do, I feel liberated. The psychologists are very patient and understanding and it truly is a Safe Space.’
While Beyond Stigma has benefitted people in awe-inspiring ways, it might be apt to say that the youth of India is driving the nation towards a progressive future that allows one to be at their best in body and mind.
This promising endeavor that has given way to so many people is sure to only grow with time and will profoundly help in creating an environment where people can remain in harmony with each other, and more importantly so, in harmony with their own selves too.
Mental health is a necessity, not an option. https://www.beyondstigma.net/
"The womb of ideation and creativity lies in a clear, well-read mind."