We had a chat with the mental health counsellor and Entrepreneur, Arouba Kabir to understand the importance of mental health and to know more about her journey so far.

Mental health has become a more openly discussed issue. People are no longer hushing it away or trying to treat it as a bad disability but as something that needs equal attention and care. There are many online are in real life who are trying to spread and talk about the importance of starting conversations around mental health and how it is fine to be standing at the other end. Arouba Kabir, mental health counsellor, wellness coach, and founder of Enso Wellness, is one such distinguished expert in the field of mental wellness and has been contributing to society in innumerable ways.

Arouba has been working as a mental health professional for 7 years and the journey began when she was diagnosed with a genetic Progressive medical condition called Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 21 years and she sank into depression. After finding herself back, she decided to take Psychology and got trained in various mental health therapies like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Expressive Art therapy, and Yoga and meditations. She has been working with individuals, organizations corporates, and support groups since.

Lockdown was a tiring period for many, especially mentally. Arouba Kabir used this period for creating awareness about mental well being, it’s importance and significance. She has successfully initiated and completed various online series, webinars, and workshops. With her ‘Stand up to stigma’ series, Kabir also talked to a bunch of celebrities and humanitarians about their personal struggles and ways of prioritizing their mental/emotional health. The series stirred an amiable response with more and more people coming forward and seeking professional consultations. She also did a ‘One-minute mental health’ initiative along with RJ Nasir during the holy month of Ramzan to send across messages regarding mental health every day during the designated period. We had a chat with her to understand the importance of mental health and to know more about her journey so far.

Here’s all she had to share:

Your journey as a mental health counsellor began with you finding help for yourself. Can you shed some light on your journey from there?

All through my childhood, I was hustling and bustling between various hospitals and wards with no to multiple diagnosis-suffering physically made it even worse but the love and support of my family and friends always made it like walking on roses. But at the brim age of 21, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, Cystic Fibrosis. The consequences being separated from my loved ones, having to leave my dream job as a journalist, and being drowned in medicines and therapies of various kinds. Amongst all of this, I am glad I found the courage to not let the situation get the best of me and decided to make a move and act on it. My journey spanned various continents and cities with self-exploration and understanding of the relationship between physical and mental health. While I was getting all the treatment for the physical symptoms, I had to take charge of my mental health and that’s where my journey began.” 

What is one common misconception that people have regarding mental health issues?

Mental health issues are regarded as a social stigma in our societies. A common misconception is that a severe incident or symptom is necessary for establishing a person as suffering from a mental disorder. What people don’t understand and realize is that mental health disorders or challenges don’t necessarily need physical symptoms- they can be silent and thus people suffering from it, need more attention and care and most importantly, a safe space to express themselves.” 

How do you think social media helps normalize the stigma around mental health in India?

Social media allows people to find support groups, professionals, awareness campaigns that help them to connect with others, it helps to thus, normalize the disorders by making them feel included. Another advantage is that social media allows a person to have a safe space to voice their opinions and share their concerns- even with the privilege of anonymity.” 

You recently concluded the ‘Stand up to stigma’ series talking to various artists. What made you start such a series and how has their experience been? 

“‘Stand up to stigma’ was a series in which I had 12 guests from different walks of life from celebrities, singers, journalists, writers and so much more! What all of them had in common was that either they are battling or had won over a mental/emotional disorder. It was an attempt to bring forward the known and popularized faces of the industry like Actor Samir Soni or Singer Former Ms. Srilanka and make people aware that a mental/emotional health challenge can affect anyone and it’s absolutely okay to go through it. It was a wonderful experience for all as the response received was absolutely amazing! A lot of people reached out to us, understood their symptoms, acknowledged their conditions, and became ready to win over them.”

Can you also talk about the ‘one-minute mental health’ initiative and the responses that you have received?

“‘One-minute mental health’ was an initiative in collaboration with an RJ from Valley – Kashmir. Kashmir is my homeland and I wanted to do something for my birthplace. It addressed mental and emotional health issues briefly. In this fast-paced world, not everyone can make time to sit, read and learn about such ailments. ‘One-minute mental health’ allowed people to crisply get to know the ailments.

Lastly, what message would you like to give to all the youngsters out there?  

The world is yours, all you have to do is be ready to receive it. To receive it, you have to be healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. So work on yourself, aim for holistic development and stay happy inside, out. Break the chain, we have the facilities which our elders didn’t have, so take the charge and ask for help.

Follow Arouba Kabir on Instagram @mentalhealthcareist for know more about issues related to mental health.

Also Read – #KetchupTalks: Ritwika Gupta talks about her journey from the stage to the digital space