Next in our series of Women who Advocate for Mental Health is Bangalore based mental health entrepreneur. What we admire most about her is her determination and consistency towards mental health. She sets all sorts of goals for us!
Bhairavi Prakash is a psychologist, an Amani Fellow and the founder of Mithra Trust. The purpose of Mithra (friend in Sanskrit) is to provide mental health information, and tools, in a way that a peer would. In the past, Bhairavi has worked on workplace well-being, and set up India’s first for-profit school-mental health program. Her areas of interest include digital health, youth leadership, and wildlife.
Bhairavi’s interests are varied; she writes, enjoys the ‘golden age of television’, good food, hot tea and loves to travel. Some of her articles that are widely read and circulated include 13 reasons why & suicide, Burnout at 28 , and Myth of the Blue Whale. You can see her also at Amani Institute’s ‘Walk your Talk’ event in India in 2019.
Why did you start Mithra Trust?
I craved for mental health content and services that were warm, interactive, engaging and friendly, so I decided to create it.
I launched our Instagram page with The What To Say Series which helps people be empathetic, kind, and compassionate while having difficult conversations, we’ve covered what to say on abortion, miscarriage, gender violence, grief, suicide, heart-break and so much more
Mithra Trust promotes understanding, empathy, and connectedness by providing safe spaces both online and offline for people to express themselves, introspect, and feel a sense of belonging.
Why/ What aided into you conceptualizing the Meh Kit?
A friend of mine was extremely low and emailed asking me for help. The email asked me to share the tools I had learnt in my therapy sessions, tools that had helped me ride out my depressive episodes. We wrote back and forth and as I helped my friend, I realised that I wanted to create a self-discover tool that could help people understand and ride out their lows. With The Meh Kit, I set out to first explain what depression can feel like and provide tools for people to support themselves and then I provided information and tools for people to help support someone else. With every part of The Meh Kit we worked to ensure that it was not dry and clinical, that it was warm, and personal.
How do you stay motivated every day?
Being an entrepreneur is hard, being a social entrepreneur is harder still. The clarity of ‘why I do what I do’ helps me stay anchored and ride out the lows. In addition to this, I have a strong community of changemakers and friends who I bounce ideas off, collaborate with and can confide in, this really helps me.
How do you engage in self-care?
Self-care every day for me includes my ‘me’ time and my sleep. These are two things that recharge my battery and help me stay grounded.
What concerns do you feel are unique to women’s mental health in India? And How do you think they can go ahead and take care of it?
I think an Indian approach would be remiss to not examine the effect of patriarchy, caste, and social constructs on women’s mental health.
The first step is to acknowledge the impact of these social structures on our mental well-being.
For instance the number of people that have a say in the health and habits of a pregnant woman, the secrecy, the shame and blame surrounding a miscarriage, and even with a new mother, the missed signs of baby blues and more serious postpartum depression, the pressure to ‘connect’ with your child, the limited expectation and role of the father, or the negative comments that emerge from a father that is engaged ….
Or the pressure that is put on young women to get married- to look a certain way, to not be too educated or too outgoing
Or the social norms around a woman who loses her husband and is in grief, the things she should do, the places she must not visit and so on
We must first throw light on and recognise the impact of social structures on women’s mental well-being before we can solve for it.
What do you think the future of Mental Health in India looks like?
With this global pandemic we are facing, the importance of mental health is being drawn to the surface.
My hope is that funders and social changemakers are able to jump in and increase affordability and accessibility while also promoting innovation