Two teens bat for mental wellness

Two teens bat for mental wellness

Ninth standard students visit schools in the city to talk about mental health and remove the stigma attached to it

Aaryani Sahay and Kashish Singh help school children open up to parents and teachers.

With an aim to remove the stigma around seeking help for mental illnesses, Kashish Singh and Aaryani Sahay, class nine students in The International School Bangalore started a project called ‘Lets Talk’. 

The duo’s journey started when they were in eighth grade, when they saw most of their friends struggling with issues like depression and panic attacks. 

“We used to ask our fellow students to seek help from the school counsellor or family members but they refused. This bothered Kashish and me a lot because we wanted to help our friends. As we spoke to more students, we noticed a common pattern in the stigma surrounding mental disorders. Most of the students thought that they will be labelled crazy if they visited a counsellor,” says Aaryani.

That’s when the girls decided to take matters into their own hands. Both of them joined a course called ‘Future Leaders’ by the 1M1B Foundation and figured out the process they had to follow.

“We approached principals of different schools and told them about our project. If they are open to the idea, we interact with the students there and encourage them to open up and share their thoughts, problems and inhibitions with friends, teachers and family members,” says Kashish. 

Most of their sessions have an attendance of about 70 to 80 students. Kashish and Aaryani introduce the idea of mental health, debunk the stigma attached to it and explain why it is 
important for people to talk about it. Videos are also shown.  

Initially, they faced resistance from some schools because the authorities thought they were too young to discuss a sensitive topic like this. However, once they started their sessions, the situation changed. Students now themselves approach them to share their problems at school and home.  

“We take as many sessions as we can on our own because we want to communicate with the kids in a relatable way. However, when we face any barrier, we do take help from professionals. We want people to know that we have counsellors backing us,” she adds. 

In most of their sessions, they have a Kannada translator to help people understand difficult words. 

In just over a month, they have already visited five schools and conducted 13 sessions. As of now, they have 50 volunteers working with them. 

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