Recap of World Mental Health Day 2017

Sangath and The American Center
Publication date: 
1 November 2017

Celebrating World Mental Health Day: “Social Media & Mental Health: What does mental health support look like in the 21st century?”

The American Center, New Delhi, 10 October, 2017


It’s Ok To Talk, Sangath and The American Center, New Delhi, hosted a Panel Discussion and Workshop to celebrate World Mental Health Day, on 10th October. At the event, five panellists were brough together from varied fields – health research, mental health, the arts and social media to facilitate a conversation about the different ways to support young people’s mental health and to define actions we can take together.

The Discussion was mediated by Sarah Iqbal, Public Engagement Officer at the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance in conversation with journalist and author Jerry Pinto, psychologist and co-Founder of Children First Dr Shelja Sen, founder of Youth Ki Awaaz Anshul Tewari and Tara Bedi who works on community outreach at Instagram.

The speakers talked about the different ways young people can use art, expression and social networks as platforms for self-expression and emphasized the importance of self-care and seeking help.

“In our context, it is ever more important for us to listen actively and have empathy for those around us who are going through mental health challenges. It is vital to separate the person from the problem as they are not defined by their suffering; individuals need to take care of themselves and find their community,” said Dr Shelja Sen.

They illustrated this through examples from their own lives to highlight that both giving and getting help can take different forms, and self-care can be individualised for young people, but is an essential compoment of maintaning wellbeing. They also spoke about the urgent need for safe spaces online that can support discussions about mental health and highlighted the different ways that social networks such as Instagram and Facebook are encouraging and supporting these spaces. Our understanding, language and terminology too needs to capture the different states of being that we go through, “there is no and can be no pervasive, universal definition of what ‘normal’ entails”, said Jerry Pinto. 

The panel discussion was preceded by a Twitter Chat the previous day, “Is your mental health suffering in secret? #ItsOkBaatKaro” to promote a conversation around supporting young people’s mental health.