Updated on: Saturday, October 09, 2021, 01:21 PM IST

World Mental Health Day 2021: There should be more platforms where mental health is discussed with sensitivity, says Siddharth Ladsariya

On World Mental Health Day, Ronak Mastakar speaks with Siddharth Ladsariya, Founding Volunteer of Young Volunteers Organisation about their new Mental Wellbeing initiative
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay


World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10 every year to raise awareness regarding mental health issues and mobilise efforts in support of the discourse. The day is also celebrated to dispel the stigma associated with mental health issues.

During the pandemic, the discourse came under the spotlight once again, with several people and organisations speaking about the importance of mental well-being. Keeping in mind the growing need for proper channels to help people cope with mental health issues, a non-profit organisation, Young Volunteers Organisation (YVO), has launched a new initiative called Mental Wellbeing.

YVO supports impactful social transformation and development in India and aids by collecting a significant corpus via small donations every month, in a manner that is time-efficient and effortless. It helps raise funds and contributions from individuals and corporates across India and then disburses these donations to credible Indian NGOs.

Q. What was the driving force behind the forming of the Young Volunteers Organisation (YVO)?

We were a group of young professionals eager to contribute and make a difference to society. We were trying to figure out how we could unite today's youth and urge them to do something for our country. In 2015, we realised there is no point in waiting and decided to take the lead. So, we started with this crowdfunding platform called Young Volunteers Organisation (YVO) which would act as a facilitator between donors and thoroughly researched NGOs. It gave us the opportunity and the ability to be the change and make the change to make a larger difference.

Today, YVO supports impactful social transformation and development in India and aids by collecting a significant corpus via small donations (as low as Rs 506) monthly, in a manner that is time-efficient and effortless.

Q. Young Volunteers Organisation (YVO) has launched a new initiative Mental Wellbeing. What prompted the move?

The rise in the number of suicides, depression and anxiety cases in youngsters was alarming. The unforeseen pandemic brought the adversity of being indoors, which affected adults and children alike and added to the pre-existing mental stress. We thought it was time we stepped up and did something to raise more awareness.

YVO’s Mental Wellbeing initiative is born out of the need to cater to psychological breakdowns without being judged. It wants to help people understand how important mental well-being is for our holistic welfare.

If you believe in the cause and if you or your loved ones have been affected by this, you know the effects it brings about.

Q. How will the initiative help people?

The initiative aims at helping people by:

1. Raising and channelising donations towards the Mental Wellbeing cause: YVO urges people to step up and contribute to helping others. Given that most young professionals today face a dearth of time and lack the resources to research noteworthy causes, not sure which NGO to donate to! YVO acts as a facilitator between donors and thoroughly researched NGOs. It will raise and channelise donations towards the cause and help people in need and distress.

2. Raising awareness and mobilising efforts in support of mental health in India: YVO through its various initiatives reaches out to people by holding camps, social media engagement activities, talks, events (online and offline) along with engagement of corporates and clubs to spread the word. We would like people to realise that discussing mental illness should be as effortless as discussing physical illnesses. The aim is to break the taboo around judging people based on their state of mind.

3. Supporting other platforms and NGOs working towards the cause: YVO will continually connect with other platforms/NGOs who are passionately working towards spreading awareness about mental health and credibly donating towards the cause so that together we can help people in need.

Q. Mental health discourse gained momentum during the pandemic. But we are still far away from un-stigmatising the subject. It is spoken about, but not implemented in action. What do you think can be done on that front?

I think there should be more platforms where open discussions on topics like this are discussed with sensitivity. People should be encouraged to share their stories and experiences. They should be inspired to extend help and support to others who are struggling.

Q. Do you think it’s important that even schools consider making the discourse on mental health a part of their curriculum?

Absolutely Yes. The National Mental Health Survey of India (2015-2016) had estimated that nearly 7.3 per cent of Indian adolescents (13-17 years) suffer from mental health problems. The prevalence of mental health problems has only increased with the spread of COVID-19 infection. The subject, however, doesn’t get much attention in India with the focus even lower on children.

Q. For those suffering from mental health issues, any words of encouragement for them?

I would like to congratulate them for being one of the few who are aware of the condition and then having the courage to take the first step towards treatment and taking a pledge to come out of this condition. I want to say we are in full support and are right here to have these conversations and draw inspiration from you so that you know that you are not alone in this battle.

Q. Any more initiatives by the Young Volunteers Organisation (YVO) coming up?

Yes, Young Volunteers Organisation is coming up with the following initiatives:

1. Love for Animals (LFA): LFA initiative aims at creating and raising awareness, reaching out to people and supporting NGOs working in the field of animal welfare. LFA will assist NGOs in the rehabilitation of animals in distress.

2. Future Leaders Program (FLP): The mission of FLP is to empower the next generation of leaders with social entrepreneurship skills to create a meaningful impact in society, thereby making the world a better place to live in.

3. SACHI Organ Donation: YVO's SACHI Organ Donation was founded in December 2018. It is a platform that helps people pledge for organ donation. It raises awareness, reaches out and debunks myths to have more donors pledging organs in India.

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Published on: Sunday, October 10, 2021, 07:00 AM IST