Mental Health in the Digital Age


Public Health Series: Part I

Mental health Digital Age

L-R Amit Malik, Anjali Chhabria, Nikhil Taneja, Shreevatsa Nevatia

From a 15-year-old girl in Mumbai, a 12-year-old boy in Rajasthan to a 24-year-old mother in Tamil Nadu, the past 6 months have seen a spate of accidental deaths and suicides that have one factor in common – TikTok, the widely popular and equally controversial social media app. The number of internet and smartphone users in India has grown exponentially in the last five years, with easy and cheap access to unlimited data allowing people to consume copious amounts of content on video sharing websites, social media platforms and gaming apps. According to an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) report, the number of patients seeking help for ‘internet addiction’ at its Behavioural Addiction Clinic has almost doubled in the last two years. The report states that an “increasing number of youth, mostly school and college students, were developing severe behavioural and psychiatric problems due to internet addiction”.

As Christian Lous Lange famously said, ‘Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master’. While technology is now developing at a faster pace than ever before in human history, the impact it has on everyday users bears serious reflection. The internet’s negative impact has put enormous onus on our mental health system. But in a country with less than 4000 psychiatrists (primarily concentrated in urban areas) serving a population of over a billion people, the internet can also be a beacon of hope, offering easy and free access to mental health care. Apps tracking mental well-being, therapy chat-bots powered through artificial intelligence, online counselling, social media awareness campaigns and virtual safe space groups provide anonymous and affordable alternatives to those who cannot access conventional mental health facilities or are hesitant to do so.

Join us as we discuss internet addiction in India and possible solutions with Dr Anjali Chhabria, Psychiatrist and Founder, MindTemple; Dr Amit Malik, Psychiatrist and Founder/CEO, InnerHour; Shreevatsa Nevatia, Consulting Editor, India Today & Author of How to Travel Lightand Nikhil Taneja, Mental Health Advocate and Co-Founder/CEO, Yuvaa as moderator. 


Amit Malik

Dr. Amit Malik has trained and practised as a psychiatrist for over 14 years. He completed his undergraduate medical training in India and his postgraduate training and higher training in Psychiatry in Nottingham, UK - obtaining his Membership of The Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK and the Certificate of Completion of Training in Old Age Psychiatry. He has been a member of the Council of The Royal College of Psychiatrists, the European Board of Psychiatry and the standing committees of the European Psychiatric Association. He has played a critical role in building out and managing multi-location mental health services, leading on national and international health policy initiatives and most recently leveraging technology to bring mental health services to underserved areas. Amit strongly believes that technology can be leveraged to overcome all barriers to high-quality mental health access. A few years ago, he pressed the pause button on his UK National Health Service career to try and address the 95% mental health treatment gap globally. To this end, he founded InnerHour, an organisation that leverages technology to deliver personalised mental health solutions for individuals and organisations.

Anjali Chhabria

Dr. Anjali Chhabria, a leading psychiatrist, psychotherapist and now author of 'Death is Not The Answer: Understanding Suicide and Ways to Prevent It', has been contributing to the field of mental health for over 27 years. She runs Mindtemple (Mumbai), a mental health centre which supports the psychiatric, emotional and behavioral needs of individuals by using a combination of different techniques and viewpoints facilitated by the psychiatrist and psychologists, who work together to tailor the treatment process. With the increasing need to reach out to the corporate world, she has launched the Mindtemple Institute of Behaviour Sciences. Apart from being a regular columnist, she has graced panels on many television shows including Satyamev Jayate. She is a trained past-life regression therapist, hypnotist and has introduced innovative treatment modalities with the aim of constantly improving patient care. She was the president of the Bombay Psychiatric Society in 2001, served on the board of the Children’s Film Society, and is currently a director on the Salaam Bombay Foundation.

Nikhil Taneja

Nikhil Taneja is a Mumbai-based writer, producer, storyteller, entrepreneur and youth mental health advocate. He's currently the co-founder and CEO of a youth media organisation called Yuvaa, a platform that creates purpose-driven entertainment to empower young Indians. He has also previously worked at Yash Raj Films (where he headed content & development at Y-Films and worked on issues like youth empowerment, sex education and gender equality, including the 6 Pack Band, India's first transgender pop group, which won the Cannes Grand Prix Glass Lion Award), Viacom18 Digital, MTV India and Hindustan Times, been a TV critic with Film Companion and 94.3 Radio One, and has found most joy as a professor, teaching journalism students at Jai Hind College, Mumbai. With Yuvaa, Nikhil recently travelled across 25+ cities and 70+ colleges of India to record the mental health and identity issues faced by India's Gen Z through a docu-series, and to create safe spaces for young people to express themselves on ground and online. He currently also serves on the Global Advisory Board of Goalkeepers, A Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative, and recently won the Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator Award for his work on Yuvaa.


Shreevatsa Nevatia works as a Consulting Editor for India Today. He was formerly the Editor of National Geographic Traveller India, and has also been employed by Hindustan Times, Mumbai Mirror and Outlook. Though his interests vary from arts and culture to politics and entertainment, he has also taken to reporting on mental health issues in his Huffington Post column, 'Second Thoughts'. Shreevatsa was diagnosed bipolar in 2007. He has detailed his experience of the condition in his memoir, How to Travel Light: My Memories of Madness and Melancholia, which was published by Penguin Random House India in October 2017. 



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Event Details

Tue 23 Jul 2019
7 - 8:30 p.m.

CoWrks, 2nd floor, Birla Centurion, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Century Mills, Worli, Mumbai 400030

Add to Calendar 20190723T133000 20190723T150000 UTC Asia Society: Mental Health in the Digital Age CoWrks, 2nd floor, Birla Centurion, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Century Mills, Worli, Mumbai 400030