The end of the year gives us a great opportunity to reflect on the year that will soon be behind us, and recognize the efforts we put in making ourselves, and the world a better place in our own humble ways. At Brainpreneurs we have had a year of great learning, helping us become better at what we do.
We carried our several events, webinars, and activities throughout the year to encourage conversations, and initiate a sense of acceptance around tabooed ideas and worked towards innovative forms of communication in a year that once again forced us to find newer ways to navigate through life amidst the ongoing pandemic.
A healthy mental health opens up fascinating avenues for us as individuals. And yet, despite a growing understanding of the importance of mental health, it continues to be neglected in front of other concerns that confound us as individuals, and as a community.
As individuals became isolated indoors, there was a void that turned mental health into a more hostile entity. This made a conversation around the importance of mental health pertinent like never before. To further the conversation, and normalization of mental health issues we carried out several events throughout the year.
I Love My Therapist
One of the most exciting activities that we carried out this year was the ‘I Love My Therapist’ campaign. This involved people coming out with their experiences with mental health, and how a therapist helped them in dealing with a particular situation in a better, holistic, and a healthier way.
The idea was to not just reiterate the importance of seeking therapy, but to also convey to people how seeking solace in a professional therapist is the right call to make. With multiple people coming out with their experiences, the activity involved a great bond of trust between people, and was carried out healthily, and hopefully allowed people to make peace with the idea of a therapist as a normalized reality towards a healthy life.
Women’s Day – On the occasion of Women’s Day, we conducted an event themed around mental health. We asked women from different walks of life to come and share their varied life experiences, and opened a space for them to speak about their experiences with mental health over the years.
The endeavor here was to not just give women a platform – an opportunity – to open up about their tryst with mental health, but also present these women with a diverse range of individuals, and make them see mental health issues as a far more common idea than it is often understood to be. The event not only celebrated women, and womanhood, but also the importance of individuals giving words and perspective to their mental health, hopefully making some more comfortable with the acceptance of it in some way.
Workshop on Self-Care – In April we organized an online workshop on self-care. With Dr. Razdan as the chief speaker. With Covid cases spiking, we designed the workshop around the importance of self-care and building positivity.
With the idea of isolation lurking around again, the need to speak about positivity, and self-care became important. This workshop saw Dr. Razdan graciously talking about the importance of looking after oneself, something that we are never taught to do when growing up. Further, the workshop shed light on the value that could be added to a person’s life if they try to build an atmosphere of positivity around them, and encourage those around to do the same.
Continuing our efforts to discuss mental health during the peak of the pandemic, ‘Rising Above Ourselves’ campaign that was conducted in May discussed mental health in the wake of the second wave. The objective here was to discuss how one can look after their mental health while being in the unfamiliar, uncomfortable reality of a pandemic at its worst.
This included understanding the socio-psychological impact that the wave was having on individuals. To better understand the ill effects of the pandemic on individuals, we had medical experts – doctors, and psychologists – in our panel to make the journey of interrogating mental health amidst the pandemic easier.
When talking about neurodiversity, the impetus is not just to understand the idea, and see neurodiverse people academically, but with the sensitivity and empathy of a human being. This became our primary concern as we tried to interrogate through getting a clearer understanding of neurodiversity.
Throughout the year we year we had multiple sessions around understanding neurodiversity not just as a medical model, but also as a psychological, emotional experience, ranging from having experts giving us a sense of things, to individuals – from neurodiverse people, to parents – sharing their personal experience, reiterating that no one experience is same, reminding us to be mindful of being open to different voices, and experiences.
One of the earliest sessions we took was aimed at neurotypicals, as we explored the ideas of 5C’s (Cognitive Analysis, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Collaboration). We at Brainpreneurs look at the aforementioned 5C’s as an integral part of a child’s growth in the formative years. A social, educational set-up that nurtures these C’s in a child, allowing them to grow into healthy adults.
This session also emphasized on the importance of Emotional Intelligence (E.I.) in individuals and the need to inculcate that during the formative years of a child’s life. It emphasized that for a child (especially a neurodiverse child) needs to be nurtured, and educated not just in a bookish idea of a cliched education system, but in their ability to communicate, be creative, have strong cognitive senses, communicate with ease and be comfortable with the idea of collaboration, in order to take defining steps not just towards a well-rounded education, but giving themselves a shot at a functional adult life.
Another webinar that we organized titled ‘Become Your Child’s Therapist’ talked about the need for a stronger communication between parents and their children, especially during the pandemic, where travelling to see a medical professional was not always a feasible option for the families.
The intention here was to work towards creating an awareness that while a non-professional cannot be replaced, but during the dire situation of the second wave, a strong, understanding thread of conversation between parents and their kids could be the best possible alternative in the given circumstances.
To improve the communal understanding and acceptance of autism, we conducted ‘Neurodiversity and Work-Spaces: Understanding Differently Talented People’, a workshop where we again invited medical experts to enlighten us on the reality of autism. Through this session, we hoped to make autism an easy, accessible part of life, and not the far-fetched taboo that it is often understood as.
In October we carried out the ‘Journey… Listening to Our Stories’ campaign. Here we invited neurodiverse people to come and share their stories with us. This was done to depict real-life representations of neurodiverse people doing well in life, in order to present a positive, healthy image of a neurodiverse life especially to parents who have little kids with neurodiversity.
In doing this, we tried to contribute in our little way to ensure that neurodiversity is not limited to the age-old cliches of hardships, and struggles. We intended to show through these people, and their stories, that after all the struggles there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel, which makes the entire process worthwhile to go through with.
We concluded the year with Parents’ Management Workshop, an organized session where we addressed parental denial, and anxiety in the face of a neurodiverse child. This, we realized, was an important step in acclimatizing parents with themselves, because they need to be equally aware of their child’s need as well as their own well-being in order to be parents who are present for their child.
With this we rounded a year that was both incredibly hard. Despite all the challenges, we contributed to make things easier for people. From people sharing their personal, intimate stories about their struggles with mental health, and triumph with neurodiversity, to professionals giving us a sense of how we could take care of ourselves during such unprecedented times, we at Brainpreneurs tried to make this year about well-being, acknowledging our inner fears, and being there for those we love, hopefully making a positive change in a year that challenged us like never before.
By Rachit Raj