I’ve identified myself as a keen listener ever since my teenage years. I feel curious to know people’s stories, excited to have conversations around what mental health means to them, and drawn towards creating meaningful bonds with them. Choosing to work in the mental health field took concrete shape when I trained become a psychologist. My conversations with individuals in therapy give me infinite opportunities to put my identity and curiosity into action. In 2017, I realized a need to contribute as a keen listener to groups of people too. The prospect of connecting with and mutually learning from different lives and different stories that are influenced by mental health intrigued me to no end. So I began conducting workshops on life skills for children and adolescents in schools, as well as mental health awareness workshops for a generic audience in private settings.
The events I’d like to facilitate would focus on building awareness and breaking down the stigma around mental health and self-care. I intend for my events to function as a safe space where participants take back some meaningful interactions with others and important discoveries about themselves. The workshops I facilitate are sometimes educational and skill-building in nature, other times they focus on group conversations, sharing silence, self-expression, and building relationships. I am looking to conduct support groups, events around music, art, and other experiences that contribute in any and all ways to self-care.
I get to be the audience to people’s stories! I get the privilege to hold space for people’s revelations of problems, expressions of hopes, and declarations of possibilities – no matter how tiny or big they are. Sharing these intimate conversations in a way tell people that they matter. It conveys to people that they deserve to be heard. In turn, I receive this too in equal amounts; most times even more than what I am able to offer. And this, is incredibly exciting.
One of the valuable things about group interactions is the sense of community that develops for each person. The realization that they are not alone in their struggle, the understanding that support is available – both of which are vital parts of self-care. Secondly, I believe that conversations help break stigmas. Breaking stigmas in turn helps to acknowledge each person’s experience without judgment. A huge part of mental health care is precisely this – to feel acknowledgement. To feel heard, to feel validated. Even if you choose to not share, your mere participation and presence in this conversation works as a resistance to the stigma. Group interactions make these conversations possible for individuals.
That people are always doing little things to resist the problem. They are always doing little things to help themselves in ways that fit with what they value and hope for. Also, I have loved learning the different ways in which people express themselves – through words, poetry, art, silence. Each of them has left such a powerful memory with me.
My genuine intent to make the space as safe as I can, my curiosity, my stance of non-judgment, the fact that I do not see myself as an expert in the room but rather look at how I can contribute in ways that are helpful, my focus on ensuring that every person gets a chance to express themselves, and my comfort with holding space for feelings and stories – both positive and difficult, heavy and lighthearted.
I love to read, explore new genres of music, watch movies, and spend time with my close friends’ pets (while hoping and dreaming of adopting one of my own soon!). Sometimes I like to laze around and watch re-runs of my favourite TV shows. Making terrariums is a potential hobby of mine. It was really fun to learn and the ambivert in me basically found its spirit object.
The Quote Shweta Srinivasan Resonates With
What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?