Updated on: Wednesday, December 22, 2021, 12:05 PM IST

Year-ender 2021: 'COVID-19 pandemic broke stigma, stereotypes around mental health', says Shalini Gamre

Psychological Counsellor Shalini Gamre in a conversation with FPJ Journalist Swarna Srikanth

Psychological Counsellor Shalini Gamre in a conversation with FPJ Journalist Swarna Srikanth


Mental health was one of the most searched topics on the internet in 2021. However, there is not only misinformation but also a stigma around the topic. As we get closer to the New Year, the Free Press Journal's Swarna Srikanth spoke to Psychological Counsellor and motivational speaker Shalini Gamre regarding the same.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

Q. How was 2021 in comparison to the past on the stigma and stereotype of mental health talks?

In the capacity of a psychological counsellor, the fraternity was going through the challenge of social stigma towards mental health awareness since long. The society held misconceptions about connecting with a mental health expert, it believed that if one sought help from a counsellor then the person is mentally unstable. However, the pandemic created a major shift in this belief and was to some extent helpful in breaking stereotypes.

Losing one's job, loss of a loved one, physical and/or mental abuse, uncertain scenarios created anxiety in several individuals, but importantly they also stepped to speak about it openly. Through my initiative of the Talk Therapy Club, I have seen people accepting mental health issues more openly, slamming the 'log kya kahenge' ideology.

Overall the year was more acceptive in nature. Mental health stigma seemed to fade, its a progress towards mental health as people are openly addressing psychological chaos. I wouldn’t say the stigma is completely wiped out but it is definitely wearing out.

Q. What are your suggestions to end the year in a happy and content way?

The best way to end this year well would be by being self-awareness task and paying gratitude for everything that the year had to offer.

The aim here being not wanting to carry ahead the negative attributions into the new year. More so, taking with you only those qualities, habits, people, work and engagements that will help you grow and achieve better than today's life.

Q. Amid the uncertainty over COVID-19, how can one stay calm?

The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a long-lasted challenge that we all are facing and fighting every day. Similar to how one would deal with calamities like pollution, rain or heat-flakes or any other, we need to live with it, as it is a given. Set your goals, follow the rules and get to work.

Learn, innovate, dare to do, that is the mantra to keep achieving what you set your mind at. When you are focused on what to achieve, the mind automatically stays calm and ignores the numerous ambiguities we come across.

Q. How can one stay away from negativity in the coming year?

If the focus is to stay away from negativity, then negativity is what one will attract more. Like attracts like, so does negativity.

Let the focus shift to staying closer to productivity and positivity. Whenever one feels that they are encountering signs of negative emotions be open to seek help from experts or caring ones trying to overpower, tell your mind "Shut up", breathe and charge up to feel better and get going.

Q. How can one work on mental fitness through the coming year?

70% of your immunity comes from your ability to deal with life’s crisis. In life threatening illnesses such as Cancer, HIV and COVID to some extent, one’s mental fitness plays an important role in terms of recovery. This mental toughness is not an innate gift but a consistent work in progress.

Daily affirmations, gratitude exercises, a healthy diet, timely medical check-ups, a fitness routine, time to time counselling are just some of the various ways to build a strong mind that supports an individual during challenges. A mentally fit individual is also a physically and emotionally fit person.

Q. What are your key mantras to keep up a New Year’s resolution?

'New year resolutions' - these three words have actually lost their grace due to people who used them, set resolutions and did not keep it up. It is these very people who go about saying new year’s resolutions don’t work. I have met with people who have decided how they want their next year to go and have made sure it went just like that.

The 3 secrets would be :

1) Commit convincingly, being practical than idealistic.

2) Keep someone responsible for your performance through the year.

3) Celebrate every quarter if you manage to keep to your goals. Like that you will also be reviewing and upgrading them.

Shalini Gamre, is the founder of Talk Therapy Club, which is a platform for people to speak about their worries, confusions, feelings, anxiety or anything that does not allow them to feel happy.


(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Published on: Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 11:09 PM IST