MUMBAI — Day two of The Mental Health Institute was full of information and discussions. We started with a lecture by Dr. Kersi Chavda, psychiatrist, who covered multiple dimensions of adolescent mental health, focusing on depression, aggression the increasing rate of suicides in the country. He also discussed the Blue Whale issue which continues to take many lives around the world. Dr. Chavda stressed on the need for mental health professionals to focus on helping the youth build and maintain a healthy personality. As a long-term solution, we discussed how this (a healthy personality), along with adequate information about the dangers of “games” such could prevent the tragedies of the Blue Whale and similar cyber bullying.
Post the intensive discussion, Mrs. Aditee Guttikar, a career guidance counsellor, shared with us the world of vocational guidance, tests, counselling, how guidance works at different ages. Mrs. Guttikar confirmed that it is not advisable for one to do testing during the course of treatment. This wasn’t the end. In the second half of the day, another set of speakers were lined up.
Thelma Schoonmaker said,“With digital editing, I now can make many, many versions of a scene.” Looking at our increased reliance on the internet for information, news, and communication, it is necessary to be aware about the way the digital world functions and our relationship with the web. Ms. Janki Mehta, a psychotherapist and co-founder of Mind Mandala discussed about how an individual should maintain their mental health in the virtual world. She shared her thoughts on how the ease of using the internet is reducing the efficiency of human beings. We talked about loneliness perpetuated by the virtual world. The internet does give one a voice; staying behind the screen is often easier and much safer than going out into the real world, for some. However, as much as it is a comfort zone for a set of people, we tend to forget that the virtual world is twice as dangerous. Despite the cons, though, Ms. Mehta agreed that technological advancement is a necessity and it will not stop growing, but it is us as individuals who are supposed to set boundaries.
On these similar views, the next speaker, Dr. Avinash Desousa, founder trustee of Desousa Foundation also focused on Digital Psychology, and how social media has created a global world that is just a click away but at the same time created distance between people. He explored the subject, giving numerous examples of families, adolescents, teenagers and even kids who simply can’t live, offline. This dependence perpetuates a vulnerability to various mental and physical illness like self-esteem issues, low attention spans, and sleep disturbances. He reiterated that the world will evolve with each passing day, but as individuals, we can prioritise, set boundaries, be alert and more engaged with the world around us. When asked about eBooks, he jokingly said, “There is nothing that can replace the smell of a fresh book.”
Participants seemed to enjoy the different ideas and new information brought forward to them; addressing questions and clarifying concepts related to mental health in the best possible manner is one of the objectives of the program.
The day concluded by introducing the Innovation Challenge to participants, where they were given an opportunity to create a plan to make the educational sector more inclusive of mental health services available to them. The organisers will mentor and micro-fund the winning idea.
Dhanshree Waghmare is a volunteer at the De Sousa Foundation.
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