Social Media & Mental Health: What does mental health support look like in the 21st century?

The folks behind the It's OK To Talk campaign have been busy! Here, Sweta Pal and Pattie Gonsalves from PHFI and Sangath give a run-down of their World Mental Health Day celebrations, as well as a September InstaMeet Picnic for Mental Health.

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

When and where: 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 2017. At the event, five panelists were brought 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.

See image gallery to the right for all pics from the event

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”

- 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 component of maintaining wellbeing. Simple practices like taking care of one’s physical health whether through yoga and meditation or exercise, hobbies such as reading, writing and being mindful of your actions go a long way to improve our wellbeing. The speakers also shared that talking to a loved one, catching up with friends regularly and taking tasks one at a time, help them be more aware of their mental health needs. 

The speakers 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. Tara Bedi highlighted that Instagram (a photo sharing platform), in this context, allows users to turn off and filter comments on their posts and encouraged young audiences to share kind comments with each other. 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”

- 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. Follow the full chat in the image gallery to the right.

See image gallery to the right for more tweets from the chat

Event: #ItsOkToBeKind InstaMeet Picnic for Mental Health!

When and where: New Delhi, 10 September, 2017

This event was part of a global movement to share #KindComments on Instagram and on the ground by joining thousands of other people across the world who are also participating in this 16th World Wide InstaMeet #WWIM16.

With a focus on sharing and getting some love and spreading some kindness, attendance to our picnic was free, and attendees only needed to bring their Kind Comments and a snack!

Nearly 75 people attended the picnic and engaged in a thought-provoking discussion about mental health and shared their own experiences, ideas and questions relating to mental health and wellbeing.

See image gallery to the right for all pics from the event

Some of the kind comments are below. For pictures from the event, visit the image gallery on the right.

“Self-care is hardly easy, but it’s more than worth it!”


“This event is really helpful for the problems going on in life. I liked the discussion the most. Everyone should open up about their problems with friends; sharing is the best way to get rid of problems.”


“This event was really helpful, since we don’t discuss much about mental issues.”


“It’s hard not to be cliché, for kindness is pretty dope!”


“All of us have flaws; it’s okay to have flaws!”


“It was nice to be here, and it’s ok to talk about the stigma.”


“There is no need to be fake to impress others… I feel awesome when I am ‘me’.”

Children and adolescents
Families and carers
Empowerment and service user involvement
Prevention and promotion
Training, education and capacity building
Depression/anxiety/stress-related disorders
Alcohol/drug use disorders
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