Mental Health Does Not Mean Being "Mental"! Find Out Why

Dr. Vikram Patel and Pattie Gonsalves

MUMBAI: On 28 August, 2018, Asia Society India Centre hosted Dr. Vikram Patel and Pattie Gonsalves for a discussion on Mental Health with college students at Jai Hind college. The programme began with the Principal extending his welcome to the speakers and inviting them to address the audience.

Dr. Vikram Patel began his talk by stressing on the need to comprehend the word ‘Mental’ and the derogatory perceptions attached to it. He said that all of us go through difficult times, which is an integral part of life and we must not allow disappointments to pull us down. Developing resilience is extremely important, and the community can play an important role in helping people move on. Vikram added, our brains like other organs of the body also require special attention and a neglect in that direction will have wide ranging consequences. Symptoms of an unhealthy brain can take many forms: from poor concentration, irate behavior, physical changes in the body and our relationships to more extreme cases of inflicting self harm.

Adolescence he added, is an age when the body and mind go through tremendous change, which can lead to multiple anxieties and can lead youngsters to inflict self harm. Vikram said youngsters are impulsive and explained that this is not to be viewed as an aberration, rather this behaviour is ‘part of an evolutionary design that makes youngsters more prone to taking risks’. Since we cannot change the nature of young minds, we must certainly change the environment around them: parents, peers, professors can all play a part in creating a space which is kind, compassionate, and accepting of differences. He concluded with an important observation: ‘In an environment where diversity is not appreciated, mental health issues will fester’.

After Dr. Patel’s talk, Pattie Gonsalves gave a short presentation on the state of mental health today. She discussed her initiative: ‘It’s ok to talk’ and why it is crucial to have dialogue and social interaction to counter the scourge of mental health problems. The interaction concluded with questions from the audience, during which students comfortably asked perceptive questions which touched upon important issues, from sexuality to academic pressure related stress, anxieties and fears. 

Watch the full programme here:

As reported by Ashutosh Sharma, Programme Intern, Asia Society India Centre


Here are some resources and useful information provided by our speakers for those seeking help and guidance on mental health in India.

Organisations working for mental health in India:

Sangath - A non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation committed to improving health across the lifespan by empowering existing community resources to provide appropriate physical, psychological and social therapies.

The Banyan - A NGO catering to the mental health concerns of the homeless and disadvantaged, in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra.

Fortis Healthcare Connect - The mental health division of Fortis healthcare focused on suicide prevention and counselling

It’s Ok To Talk - A NGO seeking to create a safe space for individuals to share their personal experiences on mental health, mental illness and well-being.

Helpines for mental health