Who We Are
Mental Health Talks India (MHTI) is an online mental health advocacy platform based in India. It was founded on April 11, 2018 by Ayushi Khemka on Instagram, later joined by her friend, Adishi Gupta as the co-founder.
What We Do
We create content around various mental health-related issues, ranging from everyday life struggles to the larger questions around mental health and structural problems. We also leave our Instagram DMs open for anyone to come and share their feelings with us. We provide them with a judgement-free safe space wherein they can vent and talk without any fear or shame. In addition to these, we carry out both online and offline campaigns with different organisations/pages and individuals to discuss different aspects of mental health.
We also regularly collect people’s stories about their mental health. Nothing can replace a narrative of a lived experience and we strongly stand by that. We try our best to utilise our platform and provide a space to as many and as varied voices as possible. Time and again, we also try and use whatever little space we have to amplify the structural issues faced by those on the margins of the society and the impact that they have on their mental health, be it the Kashmir lockdown or the regressive Trans Bill.
Why We Do What We Do
MHTI existed in our imagination way before it actually came alive for the world to see.
As a student of Women’s Studies and earlier, English Studies, Ayushi’s training has been to question the systemic oppression in the various pockets of society. While she was doing her MPhil, she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and that was her first interaction with mental health issues. Being a student at an otherwise socially supportive and status-quo questioning university, unfortunately, she had to face a lot of stigma when she came out with her mental health condition, with a handful of exceptions. That made her think that if such is the amount of stigma in such an academically sound and privileged university, then it could be so much worse at other places. In her own experience, what she realised was that mental health is not just an individual issue. It does not exist in a social vacuum. The power structures around us guide our mental health and its consequent deterioration (or lack thereof).
And while she was in conversations with Adishi about the need for more and more mental health awareness, she stumbled upon a very traumatic experience of mental health stigma, which triggered her to just open up the Instagram app and form Mental Health Talks India. A month later, Adishi joined her as the co-founder.
Adishi has also been dealing with mental health issues for some years now. Both of us often interacted about our struggles and talked about working together to raise awareness about mental health in India.
As an English literature and Gender Studies graduate, Adishi came face to face with the social inequalities existing in our society, and that laid the foundations of a kind of disillusionment, that later snowballed into and exacerbated her then latent issues related to relationships, childhood trauma, suicidal urges and hypersensitivity.
Now, three-plus years into therapy, she is more aware of her triggers and traumas and also feels a lot more equipped to deal with them. Her work at MHTI and Letters of Kindness is one of the major pillars on which her mental health journey stands.
Our personal journeys made us realise how a lot of the stigma we were facing was the result of the lack of mental health awareness in our country and thus came our labour of love.