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I want to break the stigma associated with mental illness - Nageswari

Sindhu Kashyap
2nd May 2015
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Often reality is strikingly different from what we choose to portray.Emotional connections are dwindling and individuals are fast becoming isolated. There has been an alarming increase in mental illnesses like depression, suicides, and addictions. In 2013, WHO predicted that 20 percent of India’s population will suffer from some form of mental illness by the year 2020.

But unlike other illnesses, the stigma associated with mental illness, makes it difficult for many people to seek professional help. That is why Nageswari decided to build the online social media platform, nSmiles, for individuals who need help for their emotional traumas but are reluctant to go about it openly.

Through this platform individuals can anonymously seek help or therapy from experts in human behaviour. The platform also conducts awareness sessions and focused group discussions, which aim to help individuals build their mental resistance.

Nageswari, who comes from a testing and engineering background, decided to combine her love for mobile technology and network testing with the field of mental health awareness. This motivated Nageswari to start the platform nSmiles, and the app called Happy Being.


yourstory-Nageswari-nSmiles

 

The app Being Happy, is based on the premise that – ‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.’ With this app, individuals can know what frame of mind they are in currently in, and consciously choose to change their focus on positive thoughts. This is done through mind techniques, meditation techniques, music, or re-living happier moments through pictures.

It’s important to cultivate a positive state of mind.‘

What many people do not realise is that mental health disorders not only affect the individual who is struggling with the problem, but also the people who are around him or her.

I have lived in an environment of uncertainty and fear. A close family member was suffering from depression, and the energy around the house was draining. For years, I began to struggle with self-doubt and low self confidence myself.

Her personal experience made her understanding the need for anonymity. Very few understand the adverse effects of an environment. It took Nageswari years of self-healing and self-help classes, to help regain her lost confidence and get rid of her fear. Nageshwari believes that the support she got from her family and friends helped her change her life and create something positive. “When I started seeing that others needed support to heal emotionally, I felt that I wanted to do something in this area. With my years of self-healing, I understood the need to cultivate a positive mindset, and this comes through support,” says she.

Mental health awareness a challenge

Since mental health well-being is a largely neglected area, Nageswari found establishing anything related to it a major challenge. She says that most people could not understand her determination to work on this subject:

The most difficult part was to make people understand the subject and its cause, whether it was everyday people, or people I was looking to work with. When it comes to emotional health and well-being, people are clueless.

Getting funding was also a major challenge as the investors she approached told her that this was not their area of focus so opted for crowd funding. However, she was determined to bring about awareness on mental health through her platform. About the app, Being Happy, Nageswari says, “The app has more than 170,000 downloads and has got lots of good reviews. It is a big morale boost.”

“I consider myself lucky to have found a balance between my passion and work. Everyone in my family has been super supportive. Though the journey has been extremely difficult, their support makes me stretch a bit more every day,” concludes Nageswari.

 

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