• SruthiMurali

What the hell are we doing for mental health?

Mental Health Matters.

I have been thinking of writing this for some time now and I feel there will never be any better time to do it.

I have been supporting and working for the cause of mental health betterment for a while now. My journey with mental health promotion started when I was going through stress disorder myself. As I write this, I still fight the issue, almost every other day like many.

For a while, I was associated with this amazing organization, Moodcafe Wellness Solution (based in India) that provides a safe space for anyone who wants to express their emotions without the fear of judgment. Moodcafe had an anonymous platform where users share their emotional feelings to ‘listeners’ who are trained under clinical psychologists of Moodcafe. Listeners are volunteers with an intention to help individuals suffering from loneliness, anxiety, or any other emotional and mental turmoils.

In January 2020, we had to close down the organization due to fund crunch. We had a team of developers, designers, marketers, and psychologists who were enthusiastically working for the cause. We tried many different ways to get people to use the app and make them feel better. Last December, we introduced ‘pay as you want’ as our revenue model so that the organization can sustain to serve more people. We organized free workshops and time donation camps in various places across the country.

I don’t plan to go on a rant here, on how our organization failed, but it is sad to know that people spend a lot of money on casual stuff, luxury items, and cosmetic products, but not on mental health services. I am nobody to tell you what to spend or what not to spend on. But what we saw and experienced there was quite surprising for me. These people who spend a lot otherwise didn’t have a penny to spend on their mental health. For those who asked why Moodcafe closed down, the answer is right there.

That is the reason Moodcafe closed down. The mentality of society is why we closed down.

Moodcafe was formed for each one of us and we failed the organization.

Now, enough is enough, It’s time, we collectively take ownership of what is happening around us. We are the ones responsible for normalizing mental health and therapy. It’s our chance to do things differently.

Also, before I go, I would like to bring in your attention to one more observation we had while working for Moodcafe. You all might have noticed, the entertainment industry has taken a huge hit, especially for a few years now, with a lot of talented actors taking their lives due to depression and anxiety disorders. I am not generalizing or pointing fingers at them. But I will not shy away from saying this so that there is awareness around this matter and no lives are lost again. In November 2019, Moodcafe organized a time donation camp in Mumbai and we had invited a lot of celebrities and urged them to talk about mental health. Out of 150 emails sent, we got back from 25 people from different media. We finalized a group of 12 celebrities (missed a few due to date clashes) and influencers for the event. Of course, I appreciate those celebrities who had come and shown their support to Moodcafe and the cause. However, when we asked a few celebrities to post the updates of the event on their social media profile, a few of them were very reluctant. One of them even told us they had an upcoming movie release and couldn’t jeopardize it. Another one had a mental health post for a day and took it down the next day. I was surprised by the behavior and didn’t understand the logic.

Celebrities have a voice and they have an audience, so they can bring in a positive change in society. But most of them focus on their image rather than the cause. Now with the recent Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely demise, they will again talk about it, until the media attention dies down, then again, it’s all glitz and glam until another one loses their life.

#mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters

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