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Interview

Stuti Chakraborty.

My name is Stuti Chakraborty and I am currently completing my undergraduate degree obligation at Christian Medical College, Vellore, which is in the southern part of India. I also am the Co-Founder of a youth-led initiative that aims to raise awareness about the brain sciences, mental health and foster the spirit of research and education in the brain sciences among young minds. I am also a passionate advocate for youth disability. 

How often do you fall victim to other people’s opinions?

There was a time in my life, maybe a few years ago, when I was extremely receptive to and bothered about other people’s opinions or what they thought about me. Only when I was faced with certain difficult situations did I realise that at the end of the day, everyone has their own problems, their challenges, own life and no one really has the time to think about you except for  during fleeting moments. Even if they do, I realised that being bothered by them was not helping me in any constructive way and even though the transition was difficult, I tried to let go of being bothered by others’ opinions as much as possible. 

How do you believe you can transform painful experiences/ events from the past into positive life lessons?

By accepting that it has happened. I STRONGLY believe that acceptance of anything – whether it is a problem or a painful experience, is the first step towards leaving that experience behind and moving forward. Even in case of dealing with a problem, only when you recognise and accept it, can you look for solutions/ ways of tackling it. Most importantly, this transformation does not happen overnight. It is a continuous and on-going process that mostly depends on one’s coping skills and at times also on the support that they receive in recovering from a painful experience. 

What self-care practices would you recommend doing?

I would be lying if I said that I indulge in dedicated self-care practices, especially because I have a very hectic schedule. But I do make sure I am taking time off whenever I can, so that I don’t get overwhelmed. I do small things that make me happy – such as listening to my old favourites playlists from when I was in high school or middle school, treating myself with food that I like, dressing up and going for a night out or just catching up with friends. 

Are there any specific psychological conditions/disorders that mean a lot to you? If so, please list them and tell us why they’re important to you. 

I have been working in mental health and raising awareness about mental illness through my professional and advocacy related ventures for a while now. I do not have any specific disorders/ conditions that hold personal significance to me but I do feel that each and every one of them are equally imperative to be understood, destigmatized and dealt with effectively. 

What do you want to improve about yourself?

I would like to be more patient while dealing with people – I feel I tend to lose my temper at times. 

What would you say to someone struggling with their mental health right now? Furthermore, why do you think it’s important to have a good support system, especially when dealing with internal issues?

A few things I would say are: 1) Even though it might seem difficult, reach out – seek help. You’re not in this alone and there are people who value you and care about you. You matter. 2) Things will get better and it is not your fault. 3) Never overlook or undermine your struggles. Prioritise yourself and your mental health over everything else. 4) Recognise and cut off toxic/ negative people/things/ situations that are detrimental to your mental or physical health. 

Do you believe that the stigma around mental health in your community has decreased to a notable extent. Why or why not?

I would definitely say yes in and around my community but that is because I belong to a privileged  background and hence cannot overlook my privilege. Most people around me have an acceptable attitude, understanding of and awareness about mental health, but that could be because I belong to the healthcare profession. I’m afraid the situation might not be the same in many other parts of society and a large majority still have a negligent attitude towards/ denial of mental health problems – it still remains much hushed about and stigmatised. 

Do you think schools do their best to provide resources and care for students with emotional baggage? How could they improve when it comes to giving mental health support?  

I would say most definitely not. In most parts of the world, school curricula are designed in a manner that possibly promotes unhealthy competition, adds to low self esteem when faced with failure and places a tremendous amount of pressure on students to outdo others. Additional challenges with regards to not being in a conducive environment could be a common problem for several students, especially those who do not have a supportive support system. Schools must be more considerate of students’ mental health needs, design curricula that focus on acquiring life skills apart from just being proficient in academic subjects. Incorporation of Social Emotional Learning concepts is something schools could do to improve the provision of support when it comes to mental health. In addition, a licensed mental health professional/ counsellor must be available across schools in order to help any students that might require additional attention.

What is something you love about yourself and why?

I love the fact that I try to be an organised person. I love following a routine/ schedule and often times it has helped me immensely with managing multiple things at once. I think because I take responsibility of sorting out and organising my own life, being in-charge boosts my confidence a lot. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

Mental health is not about having a perfect life without any struggles. According to me, it means being able to navigate through the inevitable ups and downs with a firm resolve. It also means seeking help whenever required and taking all the necessary steps to ensure that your mental health is preserved.


Check out Stuti!

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