The second in our series of women who advocate for mental health is a practicing psychologist who has taken a refreshing take on mental health care. Her posts on Instagram have the unique ability of driving a point and still keeping it light. This is very much reflective of her and her enthusiasm for mental health care. Her setup Mind Heal(TH) based in Mumbai keeps its quirky, playful and relevant!
Rhea completed her Masters of Arts and a Masters of Education in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University, New York. She has a B.A. in Psychology and Adolescent Mental Health from New York University, magna cum laude. She is the recipient of the Founder’s Award, New York University for her scholarly achievements. She is currently on the board of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, USA and is actively associated with Psi Chi Honor Society and American Counseling Association, USA. She has significant counseling and teaching experience in the United States and her clinical specializations involve working with issues around anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, life transitions, relationship issues, career exploration, empowerment and spiritual search for meaning-making. She returned back to India in 2019 after almost a decade in the United States and has a private practice by the name of MIND HEAL(TH). She practices out of clinics in Mahalaxmi, Matunga and Chembur. She conducts workshops, informational seminars and also works pro bono at the Rotary Center, Juhu, Mumbai, India.
Why did you start MindHeal(th)?
For starters, the play on the word Heal and Health was the closest I could get to keeping it millennial. Interestingly, I started Mind Heal(th) as an instagram handle while I was in the United States. I believe that we are consuming information and data via social media at all times actively and passively. As I observed the phenomena of luxury, travel and beauty platforms overpowering my media feeds, I started entertaining the idea of utilizing these far-reaching impact platforms to spread mental health awareness. My aim was and is to disseminate information, raise awareness, de-stigmatize and advocate for mental health needs in quirky, playful and palatable fashion. The love, support and encouragement by viewers who resonated with the content was highly gratifying and continues to serve as a catalyst for me to take Mind Heal(th) to new heights.
In the spirit of its success and sentimental value, Mind Heal(th) now is the brand name to my private practice where I offer counseling/psychotherapy services in Mumbai. The logo a simple, fresh water plant, that echoes the essence of the need for nurturance and support to allow one to grow and flourish to one’s highest potential.
How do you stay motivated every day?
There is just so much to do… and so much to change. I believe that as an able instrument the impact you can stir and have is manifold.
How does it feel like to come back to Mumbai and practice as a mental health professional - what are the differences you see?
The transition has been challenging but exciting. There are evident differences: more stigma, shame, silence and suspicion around mental health concerns. It is crucial to highlight that India lacks standardized care and regulation to ensure the quality and credibility of mental health professionals, which in my opinion, is the first major concern that needs to be tackled by institutional bodies.
But on a more positive note, I believe there is an openness to be more aware, experiment and reassess their opinions about mental health care. The progression seems promising and a fertile ground for individuals to seek care and support.
How do you engage in self-care?
Yoga, reading books, travel, evening walks….
What concerns do you feel are unique to women’s mental health in India?
Gender is a critical determinant of mental health and mental illness. Living in a staunchly patriarchal country like India, women inadvertently are subject to discrimination at every socio-cultural and political level. The array of mental health concerns (depression, anxiety, trauma, domestic violence, sexual harassment) that are by-products of sexism leave women vulnerable and voiceless to suffer.
And How do you think they can go ahead and take care of it?
- Identifying and acknowledging their needs
- Stop bending like a pretzel to be “accommodating” at the cost of our own mental health
- Standing up for themselves/being assertive
- Tolerating differences but not abuse
- Creating healthy boundaries with family members
How can women better support other women?
- Cultivating a sense of self rather than deriving it by competition
- Be inspired by the empowered
- Support each other
What do you think the future of Mental Health in India looks like?
The future, looks bright. I hope that we are able to build on our community of credible health professionals to advocate and stimulate change.
Mental health should be covered under medical insurance.
Mental health services should be available at more subsidized rates for it to be more accessible and affordable.
Regulation for health professionals that shall standardize mental health care.