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“Let Us Talk” About Mental Health with Kanchan Rai

Can you see my screen?

When is the pandemic ending?

These are the most asked questions you will get to hear now. However, during the turbulent situation, what people are shying away from is their mental health. With endless scrolling and a little conversation, helplessness, anxiety, and depression are widespread.

So close to the families, yet constellations apart, the emotional recession is something people need to ponder upon. Coping with emotional challenges and adversities are becoming more and more challenging for tens of thousands of people because they don’t talk about their mental health.

It is something that our society considers to be a taboo and prefers keeping inside their heads! Perhaps, this is what pushed Kanchan Rai to lay the foundations of Let’s Talk- breaking the existing stigma and making people talk.

A Harvard Business School graduate and a licensed mental wellness coach, Kanchan Rai is the exemplary anecdote of “been-there-done-that” when it comes to suffering from depression. While battling through depression, she understood that if channelised in the right way, this turmoil in one’s mind can be treated. And the very first step to achieve is to TALK!

In order to decipher the granular details related to this delicate topic, we talked to Kanchan Rai for getting an expert opinion.

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It seems like a lot of people are feeling anxious and distressed during COVID-19. How can we distinguish between “normal” stress and mental illness?

normal stress and mental illness

Stress is a normal part of our life. In fact, a bit of stress is beneficial and motivating to accomplish one’s goals. However, too much stress deteriorates the health condition leading to cardiovascular disorders, weight gain, etc. It’s important to understand whether the stress is good or bad. For example, if a stressed individual is unable to do his or her daily task, facing irritability issues, poor memory, falling sick often, we need to introspect.

Depression on the other hand is a medical condition that adversely affects a person’s feelings, way of thinking, and the overall lifestyle. The most common symptoms are a sense of detachment, loss of interest or withdrawal from any particular activities, restlessness, rapid breathing, change in weight, distorted sleeping cycle, and so on. However, one of the alarming signs of depression is constant suicidal thoughts.

A depressed mind often loses perspective and may advocate death as a permanent solution to put an end to the suffering. So, if anyone notices such behaviour, it’s time to talk.

How is Coronavirus pandemic affecting those with pre-existing mental health conditions? Considering the same, tell us more about how Let us Talk is aiding people in this scenario?

normal stress and mental illness

Unfortunately, the lockdown has triggered the already existing mental health conditions of people owing to the drastic change in their lifestyle. Pushing people into isolation and tons of other problems, the pandemic has further worsened the situation.

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We, here at Let’s Talk are addressing all the minute issues related to depression and helping people to navigate their emotions. The primary motive is to make them understand it’s okay to feel vulnerable and talking really helps to heal. Moreover, we are creating awareness around mental health to break the existing stigma.

Individuals don’t often realise they need professional help. How can this be handled?

normal stress and mental illness solutions

If your loved ones or friends suffer from depression, firstly observe the signs and their behavioural pattern. Secondly, don’t distraught yourself and be patient. Usually, people don’t realise that they need help. In such a case, hear them out and act as a source of reassurance. By being empathetic, project them an attitude that seeking is absolutely okay.

Another imperative aspect is- be a good listener. We often tend to make assumptions without listening to a person’s condition. Having a friendly demeanour helps the person open up during vulnerable times. Lastly, if you are someone who is going through such a stage, please come forward shedding off all the hesitations and opt for professional help. It only makes worse things better!

Being a mental health expert, what are the most common problems of people you have seen?

mental health expert

As discussed, people are quite reluctant when it comes to seeking help. I have noticed a tendency that even during the counseling, they tend to give up quite easily. However, it is certainly not their fault but a collective societal taboo. Fear of judgment is accountable for such a behaviour.

This is why we at Let Us Talk are trying to change this very mindset so that more people can be vocal and feel empowered. Our team helps to spread awareness by creating campaigns that would resonate with the mass. Additionally, Let Us Talk provides a bigger picture to the ones who have suicidal thoughts by showing how it will hamper their family and surroundings.

In India, talking about mental health or suicidal thoughts is still a stigma. In an effort to better understand the subtlety of mental illness, how Let us Talk is helping?

mental health expert solutions

This indeed a bitter truth that in India mental health awareness or having suicidal thoughts did not get the deserved gravitas. However, after the pandemic, the term mental health is doing round. Though the definition of mental health to the majority is not much clear, people are using the term at large.

Let Us Talk in its endeavour provide the safest hands to make people feel that they are alone in this journey.

Staying at home for some people becomes difficult, owing to the existing toxicity at their houses. What will be your tips to cope with such a situation?

mental health expert solutions

Right! Make sure to have quality me time as it will help to stay motivated and fight the negativity around you. Secondly, prioritize your task and stay organized as much as possible. If you get derailed from your daily routine owing to the prevailing toxicity, things may not improve any sooner.

What made you take interest in people’s mental wellbeing?

When I was going through an excruciatingly painful phase in my life, I was not aware of the importance of mental wellbeing. I travelled to a zone from where it took me a long time to come back. It was exhausting and I have spent years trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

I don’t want the same to happen with others. So, my initiatives are nothing but a way of helping people and giving back to society in a selfless way. That’s the true purpose.

How do you keep yourself at peace and content during the difficult times?

How do you keep yourself at peace and content during the difficult times?

I have come to terms with the fact that nothing is permanent. Thus, I don’t let myself get victimized anymore. So, accepting the things as they are is vital. Moreover, I keep myself busy in accomplishing little tasks that I may not have done before. Lastly, meditation helps me a lot to balance my peace of mind during difficult situations.

As someone who has experienced mental health problems, Kanchan Rai is doing her best to raise awareness among people from all walks of life. ‘Let us Talk’ has recently spoken to eminent personalities like Sonu Nigam and Yuvraj Singh in an attempt to bring out their battles with mental health and how they overcame it. Their journey and anecdotes will hopefully inspire more people to come out and accept their condition and seek help.

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Written by Priyanka Mondal

In the backyard of IIMC, amidst chaos and euphoria of Journalism students, Priyanka finds herself among the intricacies of Tagore and festivities of Ruskin Bond. For her life is easy with these two stalwarts and she can live an eternity among them. A copywriter from the core, she nurtures a tiny cinephile, a shutterbug, and a foodie within her. Oh yes, she takes a great interest in human behavioral science and the Universe!

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