Type: Resource:

Reshma Valliappan

Reshma Valliappan Picture
  • Age: 44
  • Facilitating Since: 20 years.
  • City: Mumbai, Bengaluru
  • Notes: Reshma also facilitates events in Pune, Delhi, Kuala Lumpur and other cities outside India.
  • Can you share some details about your journey of choosing to work in the field of mental health with us?
    Landed on planet earth. Told them I was an alien-immortal-vamp sent to spread love. Humans don’t know any better, so thought I was delusional. Got treated for this and voila! certified legally to be insane and that’s how all journey’s begin – a certification of the highest disorder in my case. 😉
  • Tell us a bit about the kind of events on mental health that you facilitate.
    1. Exploring Mental Health Using Creativity:
    The program utilises story-telling, art, puppetry, playing with voices and characters, shamanism and other esoteric schools, martial arts, to provide an experiential process for participants. These differ and cater as per the needs of different spaces, cities, and disabilities.

    2. Education and mental health focused group workshops:
    Similar tools above are used to teach and guide students of psychology to understand ‘how to’ implement various psychological theories in real life or for law students in understanding ‘how to’ implement knowledge of human rights, ethics and CRPD while dealing with legal issues and courtroom drama pertaining to ‘unsoundness of mind’ and incapacity to make decisions where concerning Persons with Mental Illness. This workshops allow participants to uncover creative strategies to use in their own practice which are at par with the law yet humane and ethical in approaching and catering to the need of the person.

    3. Merchants of Madness – community theatre and performance art in mental health, on going call out for individuals/organisations to collaborate on the same in any city. The Red Door works with partner organisations in incubating the project in their city. First supported by AWID Women’s Rights Foundation.
  • What excites you about your work as a facilitator?
    Being able to influence those who are perceptually and attitudinally challenged.
  • How do you think group interactions are helpful in addressing mental health and self-care for an individual?
    ‘Coming out of the closet’ is always the biggest step. Some don’t have a choice and are thrown into that turning us into advocates or activist. When others can be given a choice on how they wish to come out of the closet, it changes the journey of recovery and healing.
    Events that are open and not direct allow this to happen creating what we call a ‘safe space’ to unmask knowing no one won’t be incarcerated or forced treated for voicing simply voicing out their mental fears.
  • In your work as a facilitator so far, what has been your greatest learning from your interactions with participants?
    a. We can only learn from our participants.
    b. No matter what stage, experience or number of years one has as a facilitator – it doesn’t get any easier but only more complex.
    c. Humility and being okay in not knowing all answers asked
    d. It is not the job of a facilitator to fix, solve or resolve issues but to ‘facilitate’ them. If it does get resolved, it is always a bonus to be grateful for.
    e. Knowing when to walk away from participants
  • What are some of your strengths as a facilitator that you value and appreciate?
    a. Being able to dissociate from the situation
    b. Knowledge source and experience
    c. Credibility and achievements
    d. Empathy and basic love to all
    e. Working with limitations, spontaneity and improvisation
  • What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
    Planning more free time so that I could paint or attend someone else’s workshop 🙂
  • The Quote Reshma Valliappan Resonates With

    I don’t have the need to understand you because I accept you. You don’t have to explain yourself as I will hear you, in mind or in heart if you believe it so.

    Jake, my imaginary friend. First shared on my TedxTalk at Shiv Nadar University.