The pandemic gave rise to the importance of mental health and the significance of addressing it as professionally and healthily as possible. On a premise where the country ranked 139 out of 149 in the Happiness Index of World Happiness Report, every effort to try and make ourselves as well as the society toxic-free counts. Hear For You is one such effort. It is a mental health service that offers online therapy, officially launched on 21st May 2020 amidst the initial lockdown in India. Created in a context that needed the service the most, Hear For You, as it spells itself, is a virtual space that caters to individuals’ emotional, psychological, and behavioral concerns, provides professional help, and spreads awareness through social media.
In an exclusive interview with NewsKarnataka, co-founders of Hear For You, Ashmeen Sethi and Mansi Thirani, expressed about the journey of their brainchild. Adding to the objective of the service, Sethi and Thirani asserted that they wanted to make sure that the name of their brand, ‘Hear For You,’ reflected their aim. “We are here to help people by providing them a safe space to talk about their emotional struggles. Basically, we are here to hear them out! The emphasis on the word ‘You’ indicates that we provide individualised plans to support each client as per their own needs. We are aware that one shoe does not fit all, so we offer a space for each person to be as they are, come as they are,” the co-founders said. On these lines, their project opens up to be twofold. Primarily, they intend to spread mental health awareness using unconventional, innovative, and unique methods that do not fail to catch the reader’s attention. Secondly, Hear For You offers effective therapy services to cater to issues comprehensive of an individual’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior by creating an atmosphere that helps them explore the inner self and teach them valuable techniques to deal with overwhelming feelings. The attached stigma is still a considerable obstacle hindering several people from seeking help, so Hear For You contends to change that.
Core projects and services
Some of the core projects of the service include organising support groups regarding various prevalent psychological issues such as anxiety, relationships, self-esteem, and so on. “We are also planning to help the youth discover the potential of psychology as a field in India by conducting one-to-one guidance sessions and workshops. This is because the mental health workforce in our country is insufficient, and guiding the younger generations who are interested in this field is important. Apart from this, we have partnered with a leading mental health app and are involved in the content creation,” Sethi and Thirani revealed.
The services of Hear For You are provided by Ashmeen Sethi and Mansi Thirani, the co-founders themselves. They are two qualified psychologists with expertise in prominent therapy approaches (CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, REBT – Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, and Clinical Hypnotherapy). “We are eclectic and empathetic in our approach and view ourselves as collaborative guides to help people resolve their psychological issues,” they added.
Social media and Hear For You
Social media can be a toxic place for some to maintain mental health. Many studies show a correlation between social media usage and depression, sleep disorders, self-esteem issues, eating disorders, and ADHD symptoms among teenagers. In such a context, how does online therapy work? In conversation about the same, the co-founders of Hear For You affirmed that social media is tactfully used as a tool in implementing their project. Sethi and Thirani contended that their Instagram Page (@hearfor.you) is not limited to creating a psychology-related feed. Instead, it is built into a community to learn, share and grow. In over a year, they have received a lot of support from the public and some prominent figures. However, the co-founders are aware that they have shouldered an enormous responsibility of maintaining people’s trust and confidentiality in their service. Hence, they’re constantly reminded of their ethos while putting out information for the people on social media. “We try to make our social media space free of stigma, judgment, and discrimination. The key is to use the platform for good, rather than letting the platform control us! Also, we encourage our followers to take social media breaks and only engage with the content that suits them, and we too go on social media detox when required,” the duo maintained.
Considering that social media is a place where ‘Hear For You’ was born, it shall always play a significant role in the journey. All cons aside, Sethi and Thirani mentioned that it gave them the privilege of reaching out to the masses through creative and modern means. Social media is embedded in all our lives deeply at this point. Subsequently, their conception of utilising this to make people aware of how essential their mental wellbeing is, alludes to its inevitable pros.
During the pandemic, the ‘Hear For You’ team witnessed their loved ones suffering emotionally and mentally, much like the general population. This led the psychologists to think about the other people across the nation who must be in desperate need of help but don’t know where to get the accurate information and trust that data. “That is why we started ‘Hear For You’ to let people know that their minds are welcome here as it is, without any filters,” the co-founders said.
Mental health: Prominent problems
In the past couple of years, several people lost their loved ones to the fatal Covid – 19. This led to an increase in the clients seeking help for grief, bereavement, coping with loss, isolation, trauma, and depression. Apart from this, younger people have been approaching ‘Hear For You’ regarding identity issues, exam stress, anxiety, and family problems. “We believe that these problems aren’t becoming ‘prominent’ now; they were always present. But, the difference is that today, people are reaching out for support and professional help, which is a step worth appreciating,” Sethi and Thirani claimed.
The National Tele-Mental Health Programme: Government Aid
The 2022 Union Budget announced a policy about mental health called the National Tele-Mental Health Programme. When the government of India re-enforces the vitality of understanding mental health and bettering the society to be more comforting and inclusive, the steps taken by communities, big and small, all seem to pay off finally. In conversation about the role of the Government, the co-founders of Hear For You reaffirmed the positive change. They observed that the move shows the progression of India towards recognizing mental health as one of its top priorities for its citizens. “Funding for mental health organisations and insurance coverage through public health structures is especially crucial,” they added.
Differentiating between ‘cool’ and a cry for help
Mental health stigma is slowly fading away. But a new issue has undoubtedly arisen. It is observed that claiming, ‘I’m so depressed’ is becoming a trend to appear cool or possess ‘main character energy’ among Gen Z. In such a premise, it becomes difficult for professionals who want to provide genuine help. Speaking on the same, Sethi and Thirani assured that their extensive psychology training helps them appropriately identify those who show clinical symptoms of depression and help them.
Needless to say, they offer an assumption-free safe space when a person approaches Hear For You. “Although someone may not be ‘depressed,’ they are putting it out there this way maybe because of some other underlying problems, such as FOMO – fear of missing out or wanting to feel accepted by their peers. So, either way, we view all clients through a bias-free and judgment-free lens. You never know what someone is struggling with, and kindness goes a long way!” the founders explained.
Based on the feedback and support of the public, ‘Hear For You’ has managed to make a positive impact on the audience or users. Since ‘Hear For You’ is more like a community, where everyone experiences a sense of belonging, it further lets them know that they are not alone in their struggles. The co-founders mentioned that they have helped numerous clients deal with anxiety, depression, trauma, body image issues, relationships problems, family conflicts, and others during the pandemic. But, they aim to impact many more positively through their work.
In the future, Hear For You aims to reach out to a greater audience and make therapy services accessible to people of all age groups. “We are also planning to expand our team as we will be taking on more exciting projects soon, for which we ask everyone to stay tuned! You can join us through our Instagram page Hear For You (@hearfor.you),” Sethi and Thirani optimistically signed off.
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