Type: Resource:

Jagruti Wandrekar

Jagruti Wandrekar Picture
  • Age: 35
  • Facilitating Since: 13 years.
  • City: Mumbai
  • Can you share some details about your journey of choosing to work in the field of mental health with us?
    I have been in the field of mental health for more than 7 years now and what drove me to it is a personal experience with someone with mental illness in my life, a desire to make a difference, and a fascination with the subject matter of psychology.
  • Tell us a bit about the kind of events on mental health that you facilitate.
    I facilitate a number of events such as a support group for survivors of domestic violence in Dharavi, and training and workshop related events aimed at training mental health and allied professionals psychological first aid, trauma focussed therapy, LGBTQIA Affirmative Therapy. SAAHAS is a therapy group for individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ that I co-facilitate with Advaita Nigudkar. I aim to use LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy approaches to address individuals’ mental health concerns. SAAHAS stands for Sexuality, Acceptance, Awareness, Health and Support – discussions around these are what we are aiming to have.
  • What excites you about your work as a facilitator?
    I am queer myself, so this group is very close to my heart. While there are many events for community members in Mumbai, we found few resources that LGBTQIA+ individuals with mental health needs, or those who wish to work on their emotional well-being, could access. Therapy can be expensive and not everyone can afford it. Also, individuals staying in Thane and the suburbs beyond have even fewer resources to access. These were some of the reasons we started the support group. I feel strongly that mental health services that are nonjudgmental, empathic and safe and are based on an intimate understanding of issues that community members face, are the need of the hour, and these need to be accessible to many more people. The thought of being able to create one such resource and safe space is exciting in itself!
  • How do you think group interactions are helpful in addressing mental health and self-care for an individual?
    When you have mental health concerns, and also and especially if you identify as queer, it is possible that you may feel lonely and misunderstood in a world that is heteronormative and where there is so much stigma about mental illness as well as about LGBTQIA+ people. Meeting other people struggling with similar issues and working on these together can help one to feel less alone. There are LGBTQIA+ individuals who may have faced violence, discrimination and may be alienated from their families and friends, which makes these support groups even more important. Also, different individuals may be at different stages of their coming out journey, and journey towards emotional well-being, and it can be very useful to learn from experiences of others who have been where you are and hence actually ‘get it.’
  • In your work as a facilitator so far, what has been your greatest learning from your interactions with participants?
    I have learnt that individuals can be resilient in the face of very challenging circumstances and can find the strength within themselves to work actively on their issues and get through them. I have also learnt that in the midst of their own concerns, individuals can be kind and can reach out to others and offer support as well.
  • What are some of your strengths as a facilitator that you value and appreciate?
    My expertise in clinical work helps me to work on more complex mental health issues. Being queer myself and being knowledgeable about the LGBTQIA+ community makes me more connected to the cause and also, makes me able to offer more by way of support. I am naturally empathic and kind, and believe in being as non-judgmental as possible. My previous experience with support groups has taught me to be efficient with respect to managing group dynamics. I have a strong sense of ethics that guides all that I do.
  • What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
    I am a voracious reader. I love animals and nature and enjoy going on nature trails and wildlife expeditions. I like travelling and exploring new places. I also occasionally dabble in writing.
  • The Quote Jagruti Wandrekar Resonates With

    I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there you read this and know that yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.

    Frida Kahlo