Friday, August 14, 2020

Conversations with yourself: Mental Health

 Conversations with yourself: Mental Health

Online Session on Mental Health with Megha 

COVID-19 is teaching us how important it is to be healthy. We are taking our physical health more seriously. We are even eating more homemade food. Manzil is also creating awareness among its students about COVID-19. 

When Manzil’s virtual classes began in March 2020, the core team was in touch with all the students and they found that the students were facing certain mental health issues due to the growing pandemic and all the changes in their routines.

Manzil is always ready to create a space where students can share feelings and problems. We are blessed with helping hands- people who are always ready to support Manzil’s efforts. One of Manzil’s volunteers is Megha Dhillon. She is a professor of Psychology at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi. She started introducing the concept of mental health and self-development to students through a series of sessions last year with the support of Vandana a core team member. The series was called Conversations with yourself. Four sessions were conducted in the series. The first one was on what mental health is and why it is important for us. It was shared that mental health is the capacity to realise one’s potentials, be productive, handle the normal stresses of life well and contribute to one’s community. Mental health has become a very important topic as mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are increasing in India. Stress levels have also been rising. Thus it is important to create awareness about mental health and how to address such issues.  During the session the students discussed their views and feelings openly. We had three more sessions in which several topics related to mental well-being and personal growth were covered such as:

     Healthy and unhealthy relationships with others and self: We discussed the features of both kinds of relationships. Some features of healthy relationships are love, understanding and respect. 

     Mental strengths: Just like the body, the mind has strengths too. These include compassion, humour, social intelligence and optimism.  

     Cognitive skills: These are skills related to thinking. They include attention, decision making and problem solving. 

     Goal setting: In this we covered the concept of SMART goals which stands for goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time bound.  

     Critical thinking: It is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas.

     Gratitude: This refers to living life with a thankful attitude and we spoke of why such an attitude is important for our happiness in life. 

     Forgiveness: We discussed why forgiveness is important, how we can learn to forgive and how forgiveness can contribute to mental health 


After the initiation of the COVID-19 related lockdown, the series was replicated online. This time the entire facilitation was done by Vandana. This was the first time Vandana was facilitating such sessions and Megha supported her in the process. With time Vandana's comfort level in taking the sessions increased.  Here is some feedback from the participants.

     The sessions were useful and interactive.

     We got to know about self conversation and self love.

     We learned how to set a smart goal in our life.

     The activities were thoughtful and interesting.

     The sessions should be more often.

     The sessions should have visual presentations

     There should be some weekly tasks to do.


After such feedback, the Manzil team felt this topic should be discussed in every virtual classroom. Now Megha and Vandana are taking the Mental Health Sessions with all the students of Manzil. The students have enjoyed the sessions. The sessions have helped some students to talk about their own mental health. These sessions also opened an invitation for students to talk about themselves freely with Megha or Vandana. Some of the students indeed got connected with Megha. We look forward to many more open dialogues with students. 


Written by Megha (Volunteer) and Vandana (Manzil student & Core member)


Megha Dhillion has been volunteering with Manzil since 2018. She is a Professor of Psychology at LSR college, but the way she says yes to whatever we request of her, it seems to us that she works for us full time and teaches in college in her spare time.


Vandana, 25, teaches English, and is also a core member of Manzil. She likes spending time with kids and listening to people’s stories and she dislikes people who harm animals.


With Megha’s help, Vandana is practising conducting mental health sessions in Manzil, and together they are determined to keep a keen eye on the state of mental health of Manzil students 

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