Young minds discuss mental health at AIESEC’s online World Café3 min read
MANIPAL: A virtual edition of World Café, powered by AIESEC Manipal, was organised on July 19, 2020, outlining the theme of ‘Mental Health Matters’. The event saw participation from students belonging to different colleges of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE).
Organised over the videotelephony app Zoom, owing to the prevalent pandemic, the event tackled the many realities of mental health and served as an interactive platform for dialogue on personal growth and help-seeking. The forum encouraged a healthy exchange of ideas and viewpoints on the various social, familial and personal aspects of the matter at hand, along with three guest speaker sessions. Each of these sessions were consecutively followed by timed 10-minute discussions in ‘breakout rooms’ consisting of two to three members each, along with a moderator from Blank 101, Manipal.
The first speaker of the evening was Satvik Sethi, Founder and CEO of Runaway, a student venture promoting mental health awareness. He shared the very ideas and details that gave birth to his app. Reflecting on his personal experiences with people reaching out for help, he highlighted the underlying importance that mental health holds and how much it is neglected, especially in the Indian society. The group discussion following this session witnessed participants debate over ‘Neuroticism is defined as a tendency towards depression, anxiety, and other negative feelings that indicate low emotional stability. Does misinterpretation of mental health awareness promote neurotic behavior?’
The topic of naturalistic behavior patterns after negative mental health episodes was also thoroughly examined. Syam K Ravindran, an experienced consultant and teaching faculty at the Department of Clinical Psychology, MAHE, addressed the participants on the importance of empathy and kindness towards oneself. The discussion in this session was on ‘Prevention is better than cure –a sensibility applicable to physical health. Should this not be extended to mental health?’
Counselling psychologist and mental health advocate Karthik Hariharan was the final speaker. In his talk, he focused on how oftentimes people suffering from mental health problems tend to think that ‘something is wrong’ with them, whilst in reality it is the situation they are in that wrongly affects them. “What needs to be explored in times like this, when people are facing loneliness or sorrow is commitment to certain positive mental health practices such as yoga, journaling, writing, calling people, going out to the park and other mindfulness trainings,” he said, explaining how to deal with mental health problems in the current lockdown scenario.
The closing discourse subject matter was met with a balanced approach from all the participants – ‘While the topic of mental health is not a taboo today, there is still a huge barrier felt about opening up within our society. Does this suggest that mere awareness is not helping entirely? Where are we lacking in terms of breaking the stigma?’
Participants had favourable responses to the programme and its output. “This event was about achieving the vision to spread awareness, to have vulnerable conversations and to meet new like-minded people even in times of a pandemic,”commented Priyanka Dudeja, a student from Manipal School of Architecture and Planning.
With future activities being restricted to virtual conversations, Rahul Sharma, Core Committee Vice President for the World Café conveyed, “We hope to release some opportunities through which we will try to create forums where students can have someone to take their problems to. The focus of this event was to stir up a conversation about mental health that could provide all the students who are somewhat stuck at home, a sort of breathing space to express themselves.”
Featured Image: TMJ Archives/ Yeshaswini Srihari
Edited by: Josephine Justin