Mental health should be given as much importance as is given to physical health. Sadly, mental health is often ignored. People don’t want to discuss their feelings and emotions. Ignoring the stress and anxiety one is going through is the root cause of depression and frustration in them. Mental illness of any type is very risky. When they don’t have a support system, sometimes people feeling helpless turn to dangerous things like drugs, alcohol or committing suicide. Here’s the story of Shalmali Jadhav, a young girl who rescued her sister from ending her life due to depression and herself a depression survivor now working hard for raising awareness about the importance of mental health.
Hi, I’m Shalmali, a graduate student and mental health activist from Pune. Here’s sharing my story of how I started an organization working to spread mental health awareness in youth.
I was in the 12th grade when the issue of mental health hit me first. I was going through that phase called ‘mini-depression’ and realized that most of the youngsters were facing the same problem at that time. I know we need to talk about it and hear them out. Later then, I got a very different experience. It was a bright sunny day in June, my sister was a sister on the edge of her bed. I happened to accidentally open her room and what I found was, she was sitting with a bottle of pills in her left hand and heap of tablets in her right. The ceiling lamp hanging on her and her computer open with a goodbye letter. She was about to commit suicide. What if for at least one time I would have spoken to her and not as a sister but as her friend. Her goodbye letter said she had a feeling that nobody loves her, nobody needs her and her existence is ruthless. I thank heaven enough times every day for making me enter her room.
Recently, I founded a nonprofit organization called “Empathy 4 You”, working for raising mental health awareness and breaking the stigma of mental health in the youth. Initially, I used to counsel people online via social media. It wasn’t prof counseling at that time, but at least I was able to read and understand them. And till now, I have counseled 60 people, the happiness I get after seeing a smile on someone’s smile because of me is what keeps me going. Later then, we started conducting lectures, seminars in schools and colleges for raising mental health awareness among the youth through E4U and have covered more than 35 colleges in and around Pune. Recently we also collaborated with a California Based organization called ‘Letters to Strangers’. That feeling of making someone’s day is very very satisfying.
In the future, I have decided to complete my post-graduation in Psychology and take my movement forward for the betterment of society.
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