Home News & Stories Bridging the gap in Mental Health Care – A TownHall

Bridging the gap in Mental Health Care – A TownHall

The Melton Foundation organized a Virtual #TownHall on ‘ Bridging the Gap on Mental Health Care ‘ on the 26th of September, 2020, in partnership with the White Swan Foundation for Mental Health, Mental Health Talks India, and the Minds Foundation at 6:30 PM IST. Watch meaningful dialogue on Mental #HealthCare and take away key insights on making it accessible for all!

UN #SDG 3.0 Good Health and Well-being: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Mental Health has often been a casualty of stigma and negligence, but we are here to call for a change!

On September 26th, 2020, at 6:30 PM IST, we organized a Mental Health and Well-being TownHall – ‘Bridging the Gap in Mental Health Care’ in collaboration with leading mental health organizations from India. Catch the full recording below! 

Hosted in collaboration with the White Swan Foundation for Mental Health, Mental Health Talks India, and the Minds Foundation, the event proved to be an interactive, stimulating conversation between our participants and the accomplished Mental Health experts we were joined by! Read on to discover some key insights and takeaways from the TownHall!

As the world reels under the debilitating effects of #COVID19, mental health issues occupy the center stage and the dialogues around mental health needs become all the more necessary. Just like optimum physical health care needs, mental health care awareness, and education, is a requirement and very much a necessity in modern society. Our panel of esteemed clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and mental health care workers and volunteers helped us learn how we, as responsible Global Citizens, can ‘Bridge the Gap in Mental Health Care’. Mental Health may be a term in social vogue today, but there is still a long way to go before we unshackle it from the chains of stigma and ignorance surrounding it. ‘Bridging the gap on Mental Health Care’ brought together eminent mental health professionals and experts from India and around the world to discuss its implications on people suffering from mental health diseases but unable to access affordable care services owing to social constrictions. 

The impulse videos and interactive sessions with our participants brought to the fore several exigent issues, including destigmatizing Mental Health disorders, identifying symptoms within oneself and others, and refusal of society to attach validity to mental distress.  Moderated by two of our very own Fellows: Dr. Vernice Richards and Lisa Gunther, we were lucky to have with us the following panelists and listen to their thoughts on the topic!

  • Raghu Appasani (Founder and CEO of The MINDS Foundation): The need to recognize and display a healthy range of emotions – The cultural, historical practices which can be implemented to infuse diversity into the current healthcare system
  • Pragya Lodha (Mumbai Program Director & Clinical Psychologist at The MINDS Foundation): Battling romanticization of Mental Health illnesses – The risks of self-diagnosing instead of seeking professional help
  • Manoj Chandran (Founder and CEO of the White Swan Foundation for Mental Health): The need to bring in a shift in mindsets to create more demand for mental health services – reduce the delay in taking and implementing decisions to avail mental health services
  • Dr. Garima Srivastava (Assistant professor of psychology at the University of Delhi and a practicing counseling psychologist/psychotherapist) – The reluctance to recognize mental health issues as valid disorders that require medical attention instead of trivializing it.
  • Ayushi Khemka (Founder and co-curator of Mental Health Talks India): Give a greater role to survivors themselves as providers of mental health services – Highlight stories of their lived experiences to encourage people to avail health care service.
  • Adishi Gupta (Co-curator at Mental Health Talks India): Identify sources of distress – Question ourselves if we are really paying heed to what people want to say

Some of the other issues broached during the discussion and the Q&A sessions – 

  • Toxic positivity and false affirmations which are influencing people to jump onto the Mental Health bandwagon without grasping the ground realities
  • To empower vulnerable communities and provide programs which make Mental Health Care services affordable for less privileged people in remote areas
  • Dealing with anxiety issues induced by the pandemic 
  • The role of Mental Health Allies and therapists in spreading the word on the issue
  • The impact on therapists and professionals themselves and acknowledging their vulnerability to Mental Illnesses too

The ensuing conversations brought attention to several themes that are missing from the generic discourse on Mental Health we find everywhere. The event generated some very interesting feedback and takeaways as shared by our participants!

“I loved learning from all the different professionals. And I also loved learning from other people’s stories because it helped me to see that I’m not alone and what I face is also faced by others!”

“I felt so good to be in a completely judgment-free zone about Mental Health. And definitely learned that “there are no bystanders” – everyone has a role to play in this society to make mental healthcare accessible to all.”

“The TownHall was a safe space where one could express their opinions and their feelings about mental health and what he/she has faced or is facing.”

All in all, the evening was one where honesty and a broad mindset reigned, where professionals and advocates came together from across the world to address the truth and work together on a single platform! 

Meet our Partners and Panelists: 

The White Swan Foundation for Mental Health

  • Manoj Chandran, Founding CEO – WSF is a Bangalore-based non-profit organization that offers knowledge-led solutions in the area of mental health.  They provide persons with mental illness, caregivers, and communities with well-researched information that helps make informed decisions on how to deal with mental health issues. Manoj is their Founding CEO with over 25 years of experience in the field.
  • Dr. Garima Srivastava – is currently an Assistant professor of psychology at the University of Delhi and a practicing counseling psychologist/psychotherapist. 

The Minds Foundation

  • Raghu Appasani, MDRaghu Kiran Appasani, MD is a Psychiatrist, Neuroscientist, Mental Health Advocate, and Social Entrepreneur focused on bridging the gap between western and eastern practices to create a wholesome society. He is the Founder & CEO of The MINDS Foundation for which he has been recognized as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, One Young World Delegate Ambassador, StartingBloc Fellow, Nexus Global Delegate, EchoingGreen, MassChallenge, Dell Top 40, and Kellogg Innovation Network Delegate. 
  • Pragya LodhaPragya Lodha serves as the Mumbai Program Director & Clinical Psychologist at The MINDS Foundation. She also works at DeSousa Foundation and is the Honorary Associate Editor for the Indian Journal of Mental Health with over 100 national and international publications. 
  • Amul JoshiImplementing and expanding mental health services into rural communities across Gujarat. 

Mental Health Talks India

  • Adishi Gupta –  Adishi is a Gender Studies graduate from Delhi. She works as a content editor at Mad in the Asia Pacific and created Letters of Kindness in 2019. She has been co-curating Mental Health Talks India since May 2018. She is passionate about issues related to gender, mental health, and our rather complex emotional worlds. She can often be found swooning over books, poetry, flowers, and skies.
  • Ayushi Khemka –  Ayushi Khemka created a mental health initiative called Mental Health Talks India in April 2018. She believes in channelizing one’s vulnerabilities into an honest conversation that can potentially bring about a change in how we live and exist in the world. She is also a Ph.D. scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University working on the intersections of gendered violence and social media.

Melton Fellows on the Panel 

  • Lisa Gunther (Panel Moderator) – Passionate about the topics of Creativity, Innovation & Transformation and how to support those on the one hand in the corporate context, but also in our personal lives with the help of Mindfulness, Embodiment, Mindset Coaching & Design Thinking. 
  • Dr. Vernice Richards (TownHall host) –  Dr. Vernice Richards is a Human Performance Specialist, and has worked with athletes and other ‘performers’ for the last 13 years. Dr. V (as she is referred to by clients) holds a Ph.D. in Sport and Performance Psychology, Masters in Counseling, Licenses in Clinical Mental Health, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Fatigue, Mental Health First Aid, and Yoga Therapy. 

 You can access the full TownHall recording here! Make sure to stay safe, connected, and happy!