Ektha Bhardwaj.

Hi! My name is Ektha and I’m the founder of Project Positivity. I am a sophomore in high school. I am extremely passionate about mental health and overall being the best version of yourself.  

I see that you’re the founder and director of Project Positivity. Could you tell us a little about the initiative and what y’all do? 

Project Positivity is an organization that strives to provide accessible resources for teenagers to improve their overall wellbeing. I started this organization because I think there’s so much stigma around mental health and so many stereotypes that we see in our everyday world. There are a lot of struggles that come with being a teenager and overall I just wanted to create a place for others to have resources that are accessible to handle everyday issues. 

How do you believe social stigma affects people who suffer from mental illness? What can a community as a whole do to combat the stigma and normalize the conversation?

I think that social stigma adds a lot of pressure and harmful thoughts on people. Many people have this idea that mental illness is not real or mental health is not important. These stigmas that create this false information that mental health is not important, shows off a bad idea to those who suffer from mental illness. As a community, there are many things we can do to combat the stigma slowly to make a big impact. First off, talking openly about mental health and educating people on the topics of mental health is so important. Just having daily conversations can help so much by letting people know that these struggles are valid and that their mental health is as worthy as their physical health. Another thing we can do is remove stereotypes that people have built into our minds. It is ok to take a break and take a mental day. It is ok to do things to improve your mental health or cut things out of your life to help. These things are looked upon negatively but all one is doing is making the correct changes to their life to improve their mental health. Overall, as a whole community we need to start acknowledging and having open conversations about mental health more because the stigma around it has to end. 

Where do you believe the line is drawn between positivity and toxic positivity? 

This is a really good question as this is something I used to struggle with this. I used to think that I had to be positive all the time and I was not allowed to feel anything but that. I finally learnt that being positive and having that mindset is not about being happy all the time but instead understanding that there are better days coming ahead. Your feelings are always valid and you are allowed to feel whatever it is you are feeling. Don’t ever undermine those feelings and you don’t have to be happy all the time because that is unrealistic. Just make sure you know better days and happier moments will come along in the future.

Why do you believe it is important to compliment and ask people if they are okay? Why do you believe affirmations are necessary?

Some people don’t realize how the small things in our daily life truly can make such an impact on people’s lives. A lot of the time many people have so many things behind the covers that you don’t see. You never really know what someone is going through until they actually open up. The simple rule is to always be nice. Compliment someone or even just hold the door for someone. These small gestures can go a long way. 

Why do you believe society depicts patients with mental health conditions as “dangerous”? How do popular media and other external factors play into this idea?

In my opinion, it is so sad to see that society is portraying that mental health patients are dangerous. People who suffer from mental illnesses are not dangerous and in fact they are just like everyone else. In society today, there are so many unnecessary stereotypes not only about mental health but just in general as well. People automatically believe that mental illness makes you different or dangerous which is not true. This all comes from not only false news but stereotypes around. Mental illnesses should be treated just like physical injuries. 

How do you believe society can change its views on the stigma around mental health as a whole?

It is clear to see that there is a lot of stigma around mental health. The way that we as a society can change this is by talking about it more. Talking about mental health as a community will show people that you are not weaker from suffering a mental illness. We have to break these stereotypes and stigma and in order to do this we need to be open and have more conversations about this. 

What do you think schools should do to help people suffering from a psychological condition?

I think schools overall should acknowledge mental health more and be more considerate about it. Some examples of this would be no homework days or time in class to relax. Some of my teachers currently do meditation with us in class every now and then and I personally think it helps a lot. Implementing this in the school system occasionally not only helps with teaching students how to cope with mental challenges but also gives them a break in a high competitive environment. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

To me, mental health means taking care of my mental state and wellbeing so that I can function properly on a daily basis. It means being at my best state mentally and having the right mindset to do what I want to accomplish. Overall, it means checking in with myself mentally and listening to my mind and body. 

Check out Ektha & Project Positivity!

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