We interviewed few members of an organization by the name Hear n Help working towards raising awareness about mental health among the youth. The organization is run by eight friends, Sadhika Anand, Mehar Vij, Archi Goel, Romir Singhla, Ishaan Sharda, Shiuli Gupta, Bhavyl Bansal, and Ojessvi Aggarwal.
1. Tell me something about your organization from your perspective.
Sadhika: From my perspective hearNhelp is a safe space for everyone. No matter how bad things are, we are always there for you. We may not always be able to help, but we’ll still support you and just do everything that we possibly can for you.
Bhavyl: According to me HearNhelp's main goal is to spread awareness about mental health and the need to vent out, it is vital for one's mental health to acknowledge that it is okay not to be okay.
Mehar: hearNhelp is basically an organization working to spread mental health awareness and beat the stigma around it. We work to create a safe space where teenagers from all walks of life can talk about their mental health without the fear of judgement. They can keep forth their opinions and their perspectives on mental health related topics that are till date a taboo in our society.
Shiuli: HearnHelp has always provided a platform for those who needed it and will continue to do so. If I had to talk about it as a third person and not as a head, I would say that the organization’s members have always tried to provide the best possible solution to those who seek help from it.
Ojessvi : Hear n Help is an incredible organization and an amazing initiative for teenagers by teenagers. Our organization works to spread mental health and beat the stigma around it. We are trying our best and helping fellow teenagers who don't feel mentally fit at times.
2. What were the major hurdles you had to face?
Sadhika: There were no major hurdles I would say but again, I started as a 16 year old. Every time we tried putting something together, people just wouldn’t take me seriously and I don’t blame them for that, I probably wouldn’t have taken myself seriously either but things are much better now.
Bhavyl: Many people are ignorant and unaware of the crucial issue of mental health; establishing any organisation from the scratch and giving out a proper structure to it was a hurdle.
Mehar: The major hurdles that we came across was that mental health as a whole issue was not given much importance and that it was not normalized to talk about it. Most individuals hesitated in coming forth with their problems and seeking help. But as we see with each passing day, there is a progress made and people have starting coming out with their problems. We see more and more individuals advocating for mental health which is a great development in the situation.
Shiuli: I would say that the major hurdles are sometimes the problems people come to us with. As a teenage organization, we sometimes find it hard to deal with extreme issues and not every person wishes to consult a professional which could be because of unaffordability or parental avoidance towards their child’s mental health. In such cases, we cannot leave a person hanging with their problems and have to come up with a solution that might best benefit them. However I see this as a process to us becoming a stronger organization as it teaches us to deal with all kinds of problems.
Ojessvi: We being students it was difficult for us to manage studies and the organization work along with it. At times it became a tedious task for us but we got through it and learnt how to manage our time very well. We were blessed enough and we were backed up by professionals who guided us through and helped us make this work.
3. What do you feel the society should change in its mindset towards people battling with mental health issues?
Sadhika: Just the notion that everyone who has mental health issues is “crazy” or “psycho”. And also dismissing these issues by saying “it’s all in your head” or “it’s just a phase” or something like that. We really need to start taking these problems seriously before it’s too late.
Bhavyl: Our society needs to normalise the concept of therapy. Mental health is as important as our physical one. Many people are unconsciously insensitive to this issue, people casually use the term 'depressed' when they are just upset, such factors lead to these issues not being taken seriously.
Another norm is that privileged people cannot suffer from a major mental issue due to the fact they are privileged. Anyone can be emotionally exhausted or drained despite being privileged and that does not make them entitled/ignorant/self obsessed.
Mehar: The changes that I feel the society should make in it’s mindset towards people battling with mental health issues is that they must remember that mental health issues are not actually diseases that will be cured or they are not phases that will pass they are conditions that need to be sensitively treated with therapies and medicinal support and most importantly they are to be treated with empathy and love. Society needs to be more empathetic towards people that are suffering they need to end the taboo and lend a helping ear to those in need.
Shiuli: The first and the foremost mindset that NEEDS to be changed is accepting ignorance towards one’s mental health. If you want to ignore someone’s health, alright but at least don’t say stuff that makes them feel worse about having issues in the first place. The second kind of mindset that again, NEEDS to be changed is people’s attitude towards people with mental conditions. It’s absolutely normal and okay to suffer through issues. No one should have the right to make them feel bad about it, if they can’t help in the slightest.
Ojessvi: People who are battling through it are told things like " don't be distracted by all this and this is all in your head". The people should understand that it is as essential as physical fitness and should not be ignored. The society should change its way of thinking and should not mock at people battling with it. People should change their mindset towards it and be more open and help and support people suffering through it.
4. Where in your opinion should the line be drawn when making fun of your friends or anybody else?
Sadhika: So a good rule I like to follow is “If the thing can’t be changed in 5 minutes, don’t make fun of it”. So for example a person’s body, their skin, the way they talk, and things like that. If you point it out and make fun of it, it’s not like they can just change it immediately. All you’re gonna do is make them feel bad about themselves, make them conscious and just become a terrible friend.
Bhavyl: Jokes are wonderful, according to me the nature of a joke depends upon the intimacy level of the people involved. There is a thin line between harmless fun and offensive insults that might hurt someone's sentiments. as long as one is comfortable everything is alright.
Mehar: According to me, there is a very fine line between joking and then disrespecting somebody and we all must keep that in mind. Joking to a certain extent is fine but when that joke starts to target the condition of a person or turn into personal attacks or for that matter turn into bullying and start effecting the person in a wrong way then it should be stopped there and then.
Shiuli: There is a fine line in making fun of a person and making fun of a person to make them feel bad. It is extremely important to familiarize oneself with that line. It would not only help keep your actions in check but also others’ actions in check.
Ojessvi: There is definitely a line that has to be drawn while joking or making fun of somebody or anything for that matter of fact. There is a difference between joking and actually hurting their sentiments and their feelings. Mental health problem is not something to be joked about or made fun of. It is something very sensitive and it cannot be joked about or made fun of. We don't know what the other person is going through or we will go through the same problem in our lives at some point . Thus there is a limit to everything and every joke.